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Old 8th June 2014, 18:06   #1
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Default Report: AMG Factory Visit & the 2014 Mercedes C-Class (W205)

Team-BHP was invited to the AMG factory in Affalterbach.

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First, a brief introduction of AMG & Mercedes.

Back in the 1960s, two German engineers - Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, were working on the 300 SE racing engine in the Mercedes-Benz development department. They continued to do so till the company decided to move away from motorsports completely.

Aufrecht and Melcher, however, had motorsports in their veins and could just not stay away from it. The two spent their spare time finetuning the engine for better performance at Aufrecht’s house in Grossaspach. In 1965, a colleague of theirs from Mercedes-Benz competed in the German Touring Car Championship in a car running the Aufrecht & Melcher-developed engine. Manfred Schiek, as he was known, won ten times and that helped Aufrecht and Melcher gain a reputation for being experts in optimizing the performance of Mercedes-Benz engines.

The very next year, Aufrecht and Melcher left Mercedes-Benz to build a business of their own and in 1967, Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach (AMG) was formed. AMG's headquarter was in Burgstall near Stuttgart. Its engines soon gained popularity among private racers. The first real impression AMG made was at the 24 Hours of Spa, when its 300 SEL luxury sedan finished second overall.

In the 1970s, AMG equipped more and more Mercedes models with its engines. The company soon grew from a small business to a mid-sized entity, attracting foreign clients. In 1976, it moved to a new workshop and office at Affalterbach. In 1984, Melcher developed a cylinder head and AMG became an independent engine manufacturer. An E-Class sedan, nicknamed "The Hammer" fitted with AMG's 5.0-litre V8 became a legend.

Daimler-Benz and AMG officially started working as racing partners in the late 1980s. The AMG-powered 190 sedan won 50 times in the DTM (German Touring Car) Championship between 1988 and 1993.

In 1990, AMG signed a cooperation agreement with Daimler-Benz, which gave a boost to the company's operation. AMG products could now be sold and maintained through the large worldwide dealership and service network of Mercedes-Benz. The first jointly developed car was the C36, which was unveiled in 1993. In the same year, AMG became a patented trademark. In 1999, DaimlerChrysler AG acquired majority stake in AMG and in 2005, increased it to 100%, thus forming Mercedes-AMG. DaimlerChrysler AG also transferred the motorsport division to Aufrecht's company, H.W.A. AG, which now works in close association with Mercedes-AMG to manage the company's DTM programme.

Today AMG has a range of more than 20 models on offer including sedans, coupes, roadsters and SUVs. The SLS AMG has been developed independently by Mercedes-AMG. The company's motorsport programme now extends beyond DTM and into the FIA GT3 Championship. Since 2012, the AMG name has been used in Formula 1 as well. The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team has seen the likes of Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton race for it. Additionally, Mercedes-AMG has also provided safety cars and medical cars to the sport since 1996.

Last edited by GTO : 9th June 2014 at 11:03.
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Old 8th June 2014, 18:06   #2
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We spotted the tri-colour along with the US & Hong Kong flags, which meant groups from these three countries were visiting the facility on that day:
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On entering the factory, you are greeted by a board displaying the names of all engineers working here:
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I did notice an engineer of Indian origin there - Sivadas. He was one of the three engineers building engines for the SLS Black Series :
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Overall, the facility houses 1200 people employed to build the V8 and V12 engines that power Mercs.

To be an engineer on the floor, there are two mandatory conditions:
  • Three years plus of work experience, along with the requisite academic qualifications.
  • Read, Write & Speak German - There are a lot of non-German names on the board, so German nationality is not a mandatory requirement.
There were a couple of interesting engines on display:
  • The original Hammer engine - This 5.6-litre V8 is an important one for AMG since it was the first to be 'constructed' (as against engine tuning by AMG). It was the first time Mercedes commissioned an outsider - AMG - to engineer a cylinder head, to move from two valve to four valve technology; making it the first 4 valve engine head in Mercedes' history. The output was a respectable 380 odd horses. The W124 E-Class which was powered by this engine was the first volume production car to cross the 300 kph speed barrier in its stock form. The engine also powered the erstwhile S-Class, but the car being heavier, was slower compared to the Hammer.
  • Among the current engines is a 4-cylinder inline powering the A, CLA & GLA Class cars - one of the world's most powerful 4-cylinders @ 181 hp per liter. It has a twin spool turbocharger resulting in lower turbo lag.
We were also shown the 5.5 liter bi-turbo motor that powers the GL63 among others. Mercedes claims this to be among the most efficient 8-cylinder engines in terms of power to consumption ratio, rated at 9.8 to 10.3 liters of fuel per 100 kms. This reflected in the feedback from customers moving from the previous generation to this particular engine.

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Coming to engine production, each engine is handmade & AMG follows the principle of assigning "one mechanic to one engine". A single engineer is responsible for putting the entire motor together. The finished engine bears the name of the engineer who built it:
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Mercedes gave us a briefing on the quality control checks and balances that it follows. There is a system that tags & tracks, end-to-end, each and every part that goes into producing the engine.

The quality of the supplied components is strictly monitored, even going to the extent of measuring the amount and size of dust particles on moving parts!
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The engineer working on a particular engine has the power to reject a particular component if he suspects that it does not match the quality standards. All such discarded parts are evaluated separately by Mercedes. Even if the engineer's assessment is found to be faulty, he is not informed about it, in order not to discourage him to compromise on quality.

The V12 engine typically takes about 5 hours (against 3.5 hours for the V8) to make before it is checked for leaks and handed over to the test bed technicians. Hence, one mechanic builds one V12 engine a day and starts another one in his eight-hour daily shift. Not all engines that are put on a cold test bench are fired up. Only a statistically relevant number of engines is fired up and put on a dyno. A visual examination of each engine via approximately 140 photographs is also performed to identify defects that can be "seen".

Some pictures of the assembly:
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After the engine production area, we were taken to the AMG Performance Studio.

Well, the name suggested that the studio would offer customers with performance enhancement options, but it turned out to be more of a Visual Enhancement Studio. Typical requests that are catered to are colour changes, leather upholstery changes, brakes etc.

Some interior shots of the studio where a potential customer can pick & choose stuff from a catalogue:
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Mercedes does not carry out any enhancement that undermines security and is not road tested. We were shown catalogues of work done on customer cars over the years. Some of them were mind-blowing and some, well, would easily find their way to our wacky modifications thread.

Here is a tastefully souped up A45!
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This memorable visit ended with a presentation on upcoming launches from the Mercedes-AMG stable.

Note: All pics courtesy Mercedes-Benz' official photographers.

Last edited by GTO : 9th June 2014 at 11:01.
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Old 8th June 2014, 18:06   #3
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The C Class has traditionally been Mercedes' entry level sedan and, in terms of sales, accounts for one in five Mercedes sold. This 'W205' series is the 4th generation of the car after the 'W204' which had a production run from 2007-2014. This all-new C Class was released at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. It will no longer be the cheapest Mercedes sedan; that position is now taken over by the CLA.

Dimensions wise, the new C class is longer (by 95 mm), wider (by 40 mm) and sports an 80 mm longer wheelbase for extra cabin space. The new car is about 100 kgs lighter than the outgoing generation. Mercedes claims this is the lightest in the category, giving it a performance & efficiency advantage. The center of gravity is lower, as is the drag coefficient (Cd = 0.24). This has been made possible by increased usage of aluminium sheet metal & cast which contributes to 24% of the car's weight and 48% of the surface area (these figures were 9% and 4% respectively in the previous generation).

A comparison of some key stats:
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A quick glance at the exteriors and two words resonate in your mind - classy, yet sporty. This is a big step up from the outgoing car and in my books, easily the best looking C Class till date. That said, the rear of the car has a more subdued design compared to the front. There is nothing extraordinary or radical in the tail lamp design, most people will find it acceptable. The car has good road presence, especially when looking at the side profile. The longish bonnet, low profile tyres and the lines that run across the body give it a muscular stance. However, the height of the windows is reduced & this may lead to a feeling of claustrophobia inside the cabin.

The front of any Mercedes is defined by the three pointed star. In the C class, there are two options for the logo's placement, based on the variant. Personally, I prefer the sportier star-on-the-grille look, compared to the star-on-the-hood.

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The classic radiator grille is reserved solely for the Exclusive variant, and gets the star on the bonnet:
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All other variants get the star on the grille:
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A close look at the headlamp with LED DRLs:
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Alloys vary from 16" to 19":
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Each car carries a Carl Benz signature on the front windscreen:
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Overall, the styling is very similar to the pricier S class, especially the rear:
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Last edited by GTO : 9th June 2014 at 11:06.
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Old 8th June 2014, 18:07   #4
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It's quite obvious that quality interiors are a given in a car from this segment. Traditionally, Mercedes interiors have preferred function over form. However, this time, the designers have found just the right balance between the two. It's an all-new interior theme compared to the outgoing C class, and is evidently a huge step up. Notice how the AMG trim's steering has a flat bottom here:
Report: AMG Factory Visit & the 2014 Mercedes C-Class (W205)-14c160_030.jpg

The feel on all kinds of surfaces - plastic, aluminium, leather seats & door trims - is premium. Interior quality is top notch and there are a lot of options to choose from (in terms of colour & material combinations). The young at heart will prefer the AMG trim (above) whereas the more mature buyer might choose the sober option below:
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The interior uses LEDs while ambience lighting is available in three colours - amber, blue and white:
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'Head Up Display' with vital information being projected on the windshield in a non-intrusive manner. Data provided includes the vehicle speed, speed limit and navigation instructions. The image appears to float about two feet away from the driving position. The height of the image is adjustable, either manually or fed into the memory:
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The center console is on a single piece panel. It has several control buttons, 3 A/C vents, a screen and control panel, yet doesn't look cluttered at all:
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I loved the classy metallic control buttons & analogue watch. The metallic air-con vents complement the wooden veneer look of the center console and leather dash trims. This Burmester surround system consists of 10-14 speakers and a 9-channel amplifier. The audio output, as expected, is fantastic and should please connoisseurs. The info systems come in three variants - Audio 20, Audio 20 CD and Command Online. In all three variants, internet connectivity through mobile is standard. However, Command Online has the option of turning into a hotspot for multi-passenger usage. The Audio 20 CD option also houses an SD card slot and pre-installed Garmin navigation maps:
Report: AMG Factory Visit & the 2014 Mercedes C-Class (W205)-img_1846.jpg

The modern 65x45 mm touchpad (on the central armrest) can be used by the driver & front passenger. It works with gestures just like your smartphone! In a left hand drive car, it was easy to operate with my right hand. But it'll be interesting to see the ergonomics and ease of use in a right hand drive car where the touch pad will be used by the (weaker for most) left hand:
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To the right is a scroll button for audio volume:
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And on the left is 'agility control' to choose between Comfort, Sport & ECO driving modes:
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The 8" center screen has extremely sharp graphics and is placed perfectly:
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The electrically-adjustable seats are comfortable and result in a great driving position. Their height adjustment range is 10 mm more than the outgoing C Class, while the neck restraints can be adjusted by about 55 mm (via four detents):
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Glove compartment houses a perfume bottle, which feeds into the climate control system:
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Longer wheelbase results in improved room at the back. It's not as cramped as the outgoing C Class, but not what I'd call 'spacious' either. Better for 2 than 3:
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The boot is a decent 480 liters......
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....with hands-free operation!
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From the many international engine options, the C220 & C250 are of particular interest to India:
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I was briefly behind the wheel of the C250 diesel & petrol (both automatics). The engines are carried forward from the outgoing C Class, with some tweaks of course. Transmission options include the 6 speed manual and 7 speed automatic. There were whispers of a 9 speed auto tranny joining the bandwagon sometime in the future. The petrol engine felt more refined than the diesel, but the latter is a hoot to drive. The diesel's torque delivery is instantaneous. The C250 CDI's powerplant is a true all-rounder with excellent low end torque, mid-range punch and lots of horsepower for the open road. However, the NVH of the diesel is higher than what would be expected from a car in this segment. This is very noticeable at idle. It does reduce when the car gains speed, but is still on the noisier side.

The suspension soaked up whatever li'l irregularities we encountered. It gets noticeably harder in the sport+ mode, yet the cornering prowess and handling more than make up for it. The C class is now equipped with Merc's air suspension (called AIRMATIC) with continuous damper adjustment. Like the S Class, the suspension has a self leveling mechanism. The driver can choose from various driving modes:

• "Comfort" mode is the default and has the best suspension setup for India.
• "ECO" focuses on enhancing the fuel efficiency with the A/C, seat heating etc. working at a lower level.
• "Sport" makes the suspension firmer, and the ride quality is compromised.

Disclaimer : Mercedes invited Team-BHP for this event. They covered all the travel expenses.

Last edited by GTO : 9th June 2014 at 11:05.
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Old 9th June 2014, 11:12   #5
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Default Re: Report: AMG Factory Visit & the 2014 Mercedes C-Class (W205)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Int'l Scene. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th June 2014, 13:59   #6
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Nice! After the Hyundai visit, this is another very good factory report. At-least through the pictures we get to see what happens behind the doors when manufacturing the cars and their engines! Secondly, for how many days were you there? Was the entire factory covered in 1 day?

--> for one thing - manufacturers have started recognizing team-bhp.com as an important and an unbiased medium on cars! All the best to your team and I wish that team-bhp is invited for many more such factory/facility visits.
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Old 9th June 2014, 14:08   #7
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Good to see tbhp going places and the nice writeup. Any idea on when the new C class will make it to India and will it carry all the equipments as shown in the pic.
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Old 9th June 2014, 16:08   #8
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Default Re: Report: AMG Factory Visit & the 2014 Mercedes C-Class (W205)

Great report.

The excellent pictures make the new C a lot more inviting than the current gen. If the CLA will compete with the A3, where will Mercedes position the C in terms of pricing will be interesting. One thing's for sure, Mercedes has turned up the heat. A lot of young new buyers will be attracted to the Mercedes brand post the launch of the new C, CLA and GLA!
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Old 9th June 2014, 16:09   #9
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Mercedes-AMG Factory visit... must have been a incredible experience.
Nice article and great photos.
happy to see Team-BHP going places.. Keep it up..!!
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Old 10th June 2014, 01:38   #10
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What a beautiful car indeed. Looks gorgeous inside and out. When is the new C class coming to India?
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Old 10th June 2014, 06:12   #11
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Amazing factory. Teambhp really lucky to have been invited to visit the factory. Such a neat and clean factory. Really an interesting thread.

Thank you
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Old 10th June 2014, 09:03   #12
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I envy you man! Must have been a mind blowing experience. I am a huge fan of the new design language from Mercedes. Definitely they look much more aggressive now. The only thing they lack currently, better driving dynamics( When compared to the 3 series) if they get those sorted out they will easily get back their top position. Can't wait to check out the C class in person when it's hits Indian soon. Hope India gets quite a few options for the alloys. A beautiful car indeed!

So jealous of you man! So damn jealous.

Last edited by Amarendranath : 10th June 2014 at 09:08.
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Old 10th June 2014, 12:45   #13
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Is the new C Class coming this year or next?
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Old 10th June 2014, 13:09   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mod_to_odd View Post
Is the new C Class coming this year or next?
I don't think it will be offered this year, They have CLA and GLA lined up for this year. So i guess an the New C will be a available early next year.
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Old 10th June 2014, 16:51   #15
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Default Re: Report: AMG Factory Visit & the 2014 Mercedes C-Class (W205)

Wow, simply mind blowing. I've always been a fan of BMW out of the German Trio, but the new Mercedes design language has been growing on me since the launch of the New S-Class sedan and Concept Coupe.

Surely, they have improved a lot with these new designs and I'm sure they will be on track to the top of the charts soon with the launch of these new models.

Seems like I will have to add 2 more cars in my comparison list (CLA & New C Class) as the quest for my first luxury sedan is going to start soon.
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