2012 SLS AMG Coupe
2012 SLS AMG Coupe. Click image to enlarge

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AMG Performance Driving Academy

Article and photos by Grant Yoxon

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Mercedes-Benz AMG Performance Tour

West Palm Beach, Florida – When buying a luxury product, something that costs serious money, it is not unusual to try a few samples before pulling out the credit card.

You wouldn’t buy a new Rolex without trying a few on your wrist, or slip on a dozen different styles when buying a new pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes.

So why should you be expected to lay out $65,000 plus on a high end Mercedes-Benz prepared by Mercedes’ AMG performance division without sampling the various AMG models and getting a good feel for how they really perform?

2012 SLS AMG Coupe
2012 C 63 AMG Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Mercedes-Benz Canada realized this might be an issue for customers considering an AMG vehicle and have responded with a “by dealer invitation only” one-day driving course where prospective customers and owners can take several AMG products out on the track with proper training and safety gear.

In 2006, AMG (which draws its name from AMG founders Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher as well as the town where AMG was originally located, Großaspach) became one of four Mercedes-Benz Cars’ brands, alongside Mercedes-Benz, Maybach and smart.

AMG cars are not merely tweaked for added performance. Engines are unique and built by a single technician to extremely high standards. Other differences include AMG-specific suspension systems designed to the expectations of the typical customer, composite and carbon-ceramic braking systems, available limited slip differentials, AMG’s Speedshift MCT 7-speed automatic transmission, top speed capability as high as 300 km/h and AMG signature exhaust tuning.

2012 SLS AMG Coupe
2012 E 55 AMG wagon. Click image to enlarge

Interior features include AMG Nappa leather upholstery (the minimum standard in Canada), unique AMG instrument cluster with AMG menu, sport seat designs with prominent bolstering, genuine carbon fibre interior elements and several unique interior colour combinations found only in AMG models.

As well, customers can order vehicles with specific and unique design changes from the AMG Performance Studio in Affalterbach, Germany, where the cars are built.

Naturally, there is a significant price premium over the Mercedes-Benz model on which an AMG model is based. For example, a 2012 C 250 sedan starts at $36,700 with 201-hp four-cylinder engine. A C 350 4Matic sedan with 302-hp six-cylinder engine is priced at $50,800. The C 63 AMG with its 451-hp V8 starts at $65,000. And the AMG price-tag goes up from there to the SLS AMG Roadster with a starting price of $213,200.

So making that decision to step up to AMG might not be an easy one, even for the well-to-do. Enter the AMG Performance Tour, which first debuted in 2008. The goal is to give prospective customers a taste of what they are thinking of buying. And for those who have already made the plunge, to learn how to safely drive their AMG high performance vehicle.

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