PHOENIX – Chances are you don’t know unless you’re a car buff or high roller. But Mercedes announced at a recent preview of its $53,800 C63 AMG sedan that it intends to change that situation by making AMG high-performance models a unique, exclusive brand. AMG will have performance centers (special areas in selected AMG dealerships), Web sites, road shows, and advertising campaigns, according to the Web site


There will be dedicated AMG sales and service specialists. Mercedes said seven pilot AMG Performance Centers will open in California, Southern Florida, and metropolitan New York in the second quarter, with 30 dealers expected to open such centers by year’s end. Those dealers traditionally sell fully 80 percent of all AMG vehicles in America.


A road show will go to each performance center to stage interactive exhibits and hold test drives in AMG models. An ad campaign begins in the spring, starting with mainly print and Internet outlets.

AMG models are built on regular Mercedes assembly lines but have their custom components installed, including the hand-assembled engines built by 50 master technicians, who sign each one they put together.

The C63 AMG’s major feature is a 6.3L V-8 that has 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque with a 7,200 rpm tachometer redline. Estimated fuel economy is 12 mpg in the city and 19 on highways.