7 ways to spot a Mercedes-AMG

7 details that’ll help you tell the difference between a C 220 d and a C 63 AMG

The words AMG conjure up connotations of the rough, guttural exhaust note, sharp-snapping gearshifts and brute looks to match brute power. You can’t help but stop and stare.

Before the high-performance firm became a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz in 2005, it was in fact a lot tougher to spot an authentic AMG. Not only were the styling clues subtler but independent dealers were authorised to install cosmetic modifications. Nowadays though, there’s no mistaking the real deal.

Flame Grilled

Mercedes Benz C 62 S AMG

What’s the first thing you see in the rear-view mirror when one of these mechanical masterpieces is bearing down on you? The authoritative grille of course – AMGs require enhanced cooling for their large turbocharged and intercooled engines so they wear much larger grilles and widened lower air dams.

Numbers game

AMG founders, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, prefer to let numbers describe their peerless engineering, so while regular Benzes use three numerals and a letter as a model signifier (i.e. C 220 d), AMGs use just two (i.e. A 43). These once related to the engine’s displacement (63 = 6.3-litres), however, today’s models have deviated from that nomenclature.

Power bonnet

Some non-AMGs still utilise powerful V8 and V12 engines but a strong visual identifier of the performance-tuned models is the bulging, ventilated bonnet. Designs may differ but the aim of expelling hot air efficiently from the engine bay never changes.

One human. One engine

Mercedes Benz C 63 AMG engine builder badge

Beneath that priapic bonnet there’s no denying the tremendous potential that lurks beneath – and for good reason. AMG’s reputation for hand-built engines survives to this day: ‘One man. One engine.’ Each specimen of mechanical craftsmanship bears an exclusive plaque with the engine builders’ name and signature.

Pipe dreams

Mercedes Benz G 63 AMG twin pipes

The tantalising AMG exhaust note makes you realise the 1100-strong workforce at Affalterbach must be heavy-metal fanatics the lot of them. The angry bark of an AMG exhaust – whether four-, six-, eight- or twelve-cylinder AMG is pure aural delight… and they wear an AMG badge for the hard of hearing.

Body beat

AMG carbon ceramic brakes

Affalterbach prides itself on masterful engines but AMGs are much more than hot-rodded Benzes. Each model is engineered hand-in-hand with the ‘base’ car – with high-performance tolerances in mind. As a result, flared wheel arches and go-faster body kits with brake cooling apertures aren’t just there to look great, they accommodate beefed-up axles and larger wheels with low profile tyres for improved road holding.

Vital cogs

A vital conduit to any AMG engine is its transmission and the razor-sharp dual-clutch ‘box, with AMG-specific paddle shifters and adjustable driver modes usurps the everyday 7G and 9G-tronic auto transmissions (with the exception of 4Matic AMG 43 and 63s paired to a nine-speed transmission).

Devil in the details

Mercedes Benz AMG binnacle cluster

To make its exclusivity evident, there’s a wide array of stylish badging and lettering to distinguish an AMG. These are situated, model dependant, along the side apron, front grille and rear boot lid; likewise within the dials, along the transmission tunnel and on the fascia in front of the passenger.


Images: MotorPress