By David Undercoffler
6:00 AM PST, February 1, 2013
This week saw a homecoming of sorts for Mercedes-Benz's AMG performance division.
In 2012, California accounted for more than a third of all AMG sales in the U.S. So the German automaker brought nearly its entire 2013 AMG lineup to Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond to show off to the media.
Notable among all the machinery were two of the fastest models in the AMG lineup: the 2013 SLS AMG GT coupe and roadster, and the already-sold-out C63 AMG Black Series Coupe. Examples of these cars were available for track testing, while the rest of AMG's lineup was limited to street drives.
Californians have been fans of AMG vehicles since they first went on sale in the U.S. in 1995, said Robert Moran, U.S. manager of AMG vehicles. Moran said several factors contribute to the sub-brand's popularity here.
"There's a huge enthusiasm for cars in general," Moran said of California. "But also there's a tremendous amount of wealth."
The median income of an AMG buyer is $431,000 -- more than double the $191,000 median income of a Mercedes buyer, according to the automaker.
AMG products also sell well in California because buyers can drive them year-round, Moran said.
"It's performance you can drive every day," Moran said, an observation echoing our 2012 test of the SLS AMG roadster.
AMG has been selling vehicles in the U.S. since 1995, when the company put the C36 sedan on sale. At the time AMG was not yet owned by Mercedes-Benz, although its vehicles were sold at Mercedes dealerships. In 1999 DaimlerChrysler bought a majority stake in AMG, and by 2005 AMG was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercedes.
The 2013 AMG product line now includes a version of almost every vehicle Mercedes-Benz makes, including sedans (C, E and S-Class), SUVs (ML, GL and G), convertibles (SLK and SL) and coupes (CLS and CL).
The SLS AMG coupe and roadster that went on sale in 2011 was the first car AMG built from the ground up without relying on a previous Mercedes model. It was the updated version of this car, now dubbed the SLS AMG GT, that served as the focus for AMG's track testing at Willow Springs.
Highway 1 also logged some track time in the limited-edition C63 AMG Black Series. Street drives included the S63 and S65 sedans, the CL 63 and CL 65 full-size coupes, and the SL63 and SL65 hardtop convertibles.
We'll have some quick thoughts on these models and the two track cars soon. In the meantime, here's a video walk-around of the updated SLS AMG GT:
And a pair of videos showing some old-fashioned fun:
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