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Mercedes-Benz Showcases AMG Advancements in Geneva

New AMG Models Arriving This Year
Mercedes-Benz AMG subsidiary has developed a new normally aspirated V8 engine, instead of looking to supercharging to get reach its legendary power output, while not yet abandoning the supercharged 5.5L V8 or the biturbo 6.0L V12. The results have been rolled out over the several recent auto shows (Frankfurt 2005, Vision R 63 AMG and ML 63 AMG; Detroit 2006, S 65 AMG; and Chicago 2006, production R63 AMG and North American ML 63 AMG intro), but there was even more news in Geneva this month.
More German Answers to Questions Nobody is Asking?
After studying this dizzying array of Mercedes and AMG offerings, we at VehicleVoice and AutoPacific wonder at their relevance. Can even the aficionados keep them straight? Probably so because they are keenly aware of even the most arcane details of cars like this. But, for the Regular Joe, are these AMG entries just another way for Mercedes to dilute its image and add to line-up confusion?



Heading the Geneva AMG lineup are two new SL AMG roadsters, the SL 55 AMG and SL 65 AMG, but application of the new 6.3L AMG V8 expands to a CLS 63 AMG and CLK 63 AMG. European drivers got their first look at the R 63 AMG in Geneva.

AMG Formula Includes Upgraded Engine, Transmission, and Suspension.
The newest AMG engine, a 6.3L V8 made completely of high-strength aluminum, will be offered varying states of tune. We’ve already gotten a look at the R 63 and ML 63, which arrive with 503HP for U.S. buyers, but in Geneva AMG announced CLS 63 AMG and CLK 63 AMG coupe and convertible as well. In European specification, the CLS 63 AMG gets 514HP and the CLK 63 AMG 481HP; those numbers will be slightly smaller when the U.S. specifications are announced. Backing up this powerful new engine are AMG modifications to suspension, brakes, transmission, and interior and exterior styling.


OK, the 6.3L V8 is Beautiful… I Want One. But Does it Confuse the Issue?

While the prior AMG V8 models used the Mercedes five-speed automatic, the new 6.3L AMG models use the Mercedes 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission, of course upgraded by AMG. Several offer AMG’s new high-performance composite brakes. All AMG models feature suspension upgrades to support the additional power, some getting AMG-modified AIRMATIC adjustable suspension system and Adaptive Damping System (ADS). With the ML and the R models, AMG again offers all-wheel-drive performance cars as well as the standard rear-wheel-drive fare.

2007MY Facelifted SL Gets AMG Treatment, Too. Geneva was also the backdrop for an updated SL, and in keeping with the focus on AMG, the SL 55 AMG and SL 65 AMG will be available along with the standard SL models from launch. (Launch in Europe is in March 2006, with U.S. sales expected later in the year.) The SL 55 AMG for 2007 gets upgrades to its supercharged 5.5L V8 resulting in a boost from 500HP to 517HP (Euro specification). Among the changes are a higher-speed supercharger, a more efficient engine control unit, and a larger throttle. Also shown in Geneva was an SL 65 AMG, which uses the 612HP biturbo 6.0L V12 of the S 65 AMG introduced this past January.


Transmission Updates
With a system called AMG SPEEDSHIFT applied to 7G-Tronic, the seven-speed automatic includes three modes: manual, sport, and comfort. In manual mode, shifts can be made with steering-wheel-mounted controls and the shift map is more aggressive to avoid unwanted up and downshifts and give as much control as possible to the driver. There are not automatic downshifts under full throttle or during kickdown when M mode is selected, nor does it automatically upshift at the upper end of the rev band. It does shift down a gear as the engine approaches lower rev limits. The only new AMG cars not moving to seven speeds are the SL 65, SL 55, and S 65, due to the immense quantities of torque those engines deliver, though they do get a SPEEDSHIFT function.
Suspension Enhancements
For the R 63, ML 63 and CLS 63, AMG was able to start with AIRMATIC DC semi-active suspension system with the Active Damping System and work from there. In the case of the CLS, the suspension still has three driver-selectable settings. But AMG gave it springs and dampers more firmly tuned, shock absorbers modified for reduced body movement in all three stages, and beefed up anti-roll bars. All ML and the R 63 AMG variants get the AIRMATIC height-adjustable suspension standard (it is optional across the rest of the range), and they retain their all-wheel-drive systems. AMG gives them special shock absorbers and damper struts and tweaked the configuration the Adaptive Damping System. Though AMG retuned the suspension of the CLK 63 AMG, standard CLK models do not take AIRMATIC or ADS, and neither do the AMG variants.
AMG’s First High-Performance Composite Brakes
AMG has developed high-performance composite brakes for the first time, and employs them on this new crop of AMG offerings. The SL 65 AMG and S 65 AMG, which both employ a biturbo 6.0L V12 with more than 600HP, get the vented and perforated composite disc brakes front and rear. The CLK 63 and CLS 63 get the composites in front only. The R 63 and ML 63 AMGs, they use high-performance vented and perforated brakes, but of standard instead of composite materials.

What’s a Performance Car Without Style?
AMG doesn’t confine itself to only tweaking the powertrain and chassis, but Mercedes is also an upscale brand. The styling cues need to convey the massive power these vehicles have underhood, but also convey elegance and style. AMG looks to nicely designed badging on the front flanks of each model, as well as more aggressive front and rear aprons and side sills. The front aprons typically incorporate fog lamps and air inlets as well. For coupe and convertible models like the CLS 63 AMG, SL 55 AMG, SL 65 AMG, and CLK 63 AMG, there are subtle decklid spoilers that are functional and improve high-speed stability. Large and lightweight wheels are also part of the package, with their size depending on the model. The CLK AMG cars get standard seventeen-inch wheels, though larger can be ordered, while the ML 63 AMG gets twenty-inch wheels.

Interior cues for the latest crop of AMG cars are all driver focused, as the car is meant for the more enthusiastic of Mercedes owners. Indicators you’re in an AMG car include Nappa leather seats with Alcantara inserts (excepting CLK, which gets Nappa leather but no Alcantara); multicontoured sport seats for front passengers; upgraded trim materials including carbon fibre, black aluminum, or aluminum; and a new AMG sport steering wheel for all models. The R 63 and ML 63 get buttons for controlling up- and downshifts, while the cars all get silver aluminum shift paddles. There is also a new AMG instrument cluster with a new AMG main menu. This new menu sports RACETIMER, a system that allows drivers to record and display lap times and distances on private racing circuits. The data can be displayed as fastest lap time, distance, and average lap times.


  • Sergio. O| April 18, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    I have two questions,
    i) Why is it that the Off-Road Pro-Engineering Package is un-availible in the new ML63 AMG?
    ii) And is a full sized spare availible, as standard or as an optional extra.

  • Avi| April 13, 2006 at 8:03 am

    u guys Rock!!!!!

  • John B.| April 4, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    I want to order the new ML 63 but am concerned about ride quality. I bought one of the first ML 55s but hated the bouncy ride. I understand that 2006 MLs new unibody vastly improved the ride, and the ML500’s ride is great, but does anyone know about the ML63’s ride?

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