As you might expect from a company with engineering at its core, AMG does things in a rather straightforward manner.
Naturally, the launch of the gleaming new Mercedes-AMG GT contained a sprinkling of star dust – Formula 1 championship leader Nico Rosberg made a guest appearance and some fireworks heralded the arrival of the car in question – but there was no disguising the fact that the launch venue was essentially a side road on AMG’s premises in the modest German town of Affalterbach. Earl’s Court this wasn’t.
That’s not to denigrate the event – AMG would rather your focus was purely on the metal. And to reinforce that, it rolled out a collection of its greatest (and most ferocious) cars from the past – the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG racing car that started it all back in 1971, the barnstorming 300 CE 6.0 AMG known as ‘The Hammer’ and the cutting-edge all-electric SLS AMG Electric Drive.
AMG likes to celebrate the employees at the heart of what it does. The company’s founders, Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher were present and a selection of the current employees were on hand along the road side to savour the moment. The whole 1000-strong work force has been invited to a party this coming Saturday to celebrate the official birth of the Mercedes-AMG GT.
“AMG is a mid-size company in its best sense. We regard ourselves as a team and we work with flat hierarchies,” said company boss Tobias Moers. “We are definitely engineer-driven, and what we do here is more than just our job; we attack every day with passion."
Moers also pointed out that the growing success of the company – which enjoyed its highest sales ever in 2013 and is on course to surpass 40,000 units this year – is a justification that cool brands can come from anywhere.
“You no doubt noticed that Affalterbach is not exactly a big city and doesn’t sound any more global than Zuffenhausen or Maranello,” he said. “But the success of Mercedes-AMG proves that world-class brands don’t have to come from New York, Paris or London.”
AMG has been tuning, fettling and engineering for five decades, but it is tempting to predict that its toughest years lie ahead, as more stringent legislation strangles the fun that can be had with sports cars powered by large-capacity engines.
So will performance cars ever become an anachronism for major manufacturers? During the launch event, Mercedes-Benz development chief Thomas Weber reassured us that AMG will continue to play an important role into the future.
“Isn’t the car of the future more about autonomous driving? My answer is yes, but not exclusively. We are also working just as hard in parallel on the issue of ‘driving fun’, and there will be no lack of this in the future of the automobile.
“Let’s take the horse as a comparison. It was not ‘made redundant’ after the car took over its role as a means of transport. Quite the opposite, in fact: the horse has lost none of its fascination, be it in sport or leisure. I’m certain that horsepower will always retain its fascination too.”
Which is encouraging, because we’ll get to see more cars such as the Mercedes-AMG GT. Mind you, I couldn’t tear my eyes off that 1988 300CE, so perhaps the future has a fair bit to live up to.