Affalterbach, Germany — When the third edition of the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class appears in mid-2018, the station wagon model that you see in Europe (though only rarely) will be put to sleep after only one model generation. Although the design of a new five-door version had already been approved to great acclaim within the company, management pulled the plug at the 11th hour, citing a distinct lack of interest from the distribution outlets in China and North America.
But don’t shed a tear just yet for this line of highly stylized cars. A stunning four-passenger coupe codenamed X290 will debut in late 2018 or early 2019. As you probably already guessed, the X290 started life last year as the Mercedes-AMG GT4. It still is a four-door GT, still is an AMG exclusive, and still targets the next edition of the Porsche Panamera. But the market positioning for the car has changed from an exclusive, premium-class, limited-production model with the choice of only one engine into a family of CLS-based models with a choice of different equipment levels and drivetrain configurations.
On the design front, instead of simply opting for a stretched four-door derivative of the Mercedes-AMG GT, the look of the new GT4 will be connected to the GT only by a handful of design themes. Among them are said to be a proper sports-car grille with vertical chrome bars, an evolutionary aero kit, and three trim packages that have been labeled AMG, AMG S, and AMG Sport. The GT4 adopts the basic body and chassis architecture from the CLS-Class, but it gets its own lighting system, quarter panels, doors, bumpers and wheels, not to mention a different interior. Perhaps the key thing that makes the exterior of the GT4 unique is the combination of an amazingly low roofline with a practical tailgate. According to the grapevine at AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, the Mercedes-AMG GT4 will be positioned and priced between the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Mercedes-AMG GT (pictured below).
While the base Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class keeps its focus on four-cylinder engines, the AMG car will be offered with a choice of up to five engines. The likely lineup includes two 2.9-liter, inline-six diesels rated at approximately 300 hp and 400 hp, one turbocharged six-cylinder good for 455 hp (including a 20-hp electric motor), and two high-output V-8s, one making 557 hp and the other developing 585 hp.
Once the Mercedes-AMG GT4 goes into production, AMG sales volume is expected to soar from the 45,000 units forecast for 2015 to 65,000 vehicles in 2018.