Catching Up With: Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers
AMG chief gives us the lowdown on the new GT 4-Door’s inspiration—and its future
Mercedes-AMG used this year's Geneva International Motor Show to unveil the production version of its new GT 4-Door coupe, a sort of "family car" version of the AMG GT two-seat coupe and cabriolet models launched in late 2014. The Mercedes-AMG GT 53 four-door comes with a 429-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo I-6 and a 48-volt system adding 21 hp, for a 4.4-second 0-60-mph time. The GT 63's 577-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 does it in 3.3 seconds, and the GT 63 S ups the twin-turbo V-8 to 630 hp and cuts the 0-60 sprint to 3.1 seconds, with a top speed of 195 mph. Each version uses Mercedes' nine-speed automatic driving all four wheels. A performance hybrid is due for 2020. We asked AMG boss Tobias Moers to give us a preview of the new car's driving flavor.
Automobile: So the GT 4-Door is based on the new CLS-Class?
Tobias Moers: No. You know, the structure underneath is an E 63 wagon. We added reinforcement to that. We added a lot of reinforcements to the body-in-white. If you see the structure of the car and have a close look at the CLS, there's a huge difference.
AM: The Mercedes-AMG CLS 53 4Matic+ we just drove is a dynamically sporty car, but it's also very smooth, and the ride-handling balance are not what we expect of a traditional AMG. What is the Mercedes-AMG GT S 4-Door like?
TM: The thing is, you have to be very focused on the segments. The CLS should be a little bit more smooth. It's different. If you can combine a nice level of comfort with an outstanding driving dynamic, there's nothing wrong with that, in my perspective.
AM: What was your philosophy when tunin g the chassis of the GT 63? As it's the car that replaces the V-8-powered AMG CLS, is there any similaritywith the dynamics of the new CLS 53?
TM: No. It's more like … it's the next level up from the E 63.
AM: Is it a track car first that you can take on the road? Or is it a road car that you can take on the track?
TM: No, no, no. Our customers are chasing for everything. Sports cars are a good indicator for that. Having a sports car, even a GT R, provides you some comfort for everyday driving. This is the expectation of our customers: Give me comfort when I would like to have it, and give me the race attitude, give me the race approach when I hit the track. That mindset is the way the E 63 is done, the GT R is done, as well as the CLS is done in that way. I don't know if there's any customer taking the CLS 53 on the track, but that car is capable of doing so.
AM: Would you call this basically a four-door version of the AMG GT? Is that what you were
TM: What we tried with that car is kind of, transfer the driving dynamics out of the GT, out of the pure sports car, with the two-seater, two-door sports car in a different segment, and doing some innovative things regarding user interface with our new control unit [for six driving dynamics settings] in the steering wheel. No one else does this interface. Everything is done at AMG. You do have a lot of space in that car. … What I personally look for is to have a lot of headroom in the rear seats.
AM: For helmeted passengers?
TM: Sure, yeah, then I can get my kids on the racetrack.
AM: Is there any new direction for AMG with this car? Or are you continuing on the road you've been on?
TM: It's the next logical step to add another segment in … kind of a dedicated AMG segment. No, the car is an outcome of the strategy, which we established in 2014. Where do we lose customers? We know all about our customers. We know E 43 and C 63 customers and even E 63 customers are looking for the next level. We didn't have a good offering. And sometimes these people moved away from the brand.
AM: Were you losing most of them to the Porsche Panamera?
TM: Some of them.
AM: What else beside the Panamera?
TM: I think Panamera is dominating that segment as of now. And you know this was a white spot in our portfolio. Without disturbing the Mercedes portfolio, we had to add a four-door sports car to our segment. And that car is capable of doing everything. Everyday driving, lapping the Nürburgring in 7 minutes, 30 something … which is really fast. We did everything to reach that conflict of targets. Rear-axle steering is standard in the V-8. We developed a new rear-axle system for an e-diff on that car, so we put the AMG four-wheel-drive system for that car, and the power output [630 hp] is higher for that car as well.
AM: What will the hybrid be like?
TM: We're working on our own battery technology. An AMG hybrid is a performance hybrid. It's not a long-range hybrid. But it gives you some freedom to drive purely electrical, and the power output is always going to be the combination of a combustion engine and an electric motor, and a high-voltage system for sure. And this is our demand on ourselves because our customers always demand the same power output. And when you are racing it should be capable of running lap by lap by lap without losing any state of charge of the battery. This is the demand for our side.