What is Mercedes-AMG Teasing With a Panamericana Grille?
A new AMG model will receive Mercedes’ signature multi-strip grilleby Michael Fira, on
Mercedes-Benz’ PR team was probably tasked with producing the shortest teaser video in history, and they’ve come up with this: a three-second video showcasing the vertical bars of the gaping grille on an undisclosed AMG model. Cue the ’Mission Impossible’ theme as we try to find out what Mercedes-Benz is really telling us here.
What Was Once a Unique Feature is Now on Almost All Beefed up Mercs
We’re just a week away from the 89th Geneva Auto Show, and Mercedes-Benz allowed a shorter-than-short sneak preview to slip through the cracks showcasing a new AMG model. At night. With the headlights on. Thanks, Mercedes!
Then again, it would’ve been no fun if the Stuttgart-based automaker made it easy for us. The video pans across the 15 chrome-plated vertical fins and ends just as we’re getting blinded by the glare of one of the headlights.
This prominent design feature, known as the Panamericana grille, debuted in 2016 on the menacing Mercedes AMG GT-R.
The GT-R, a track-focused version of the GT and the GT-S, features enhanced aerodynamics while the M178 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, V-8 was tuned to give 577 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 516 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm. That’s 108 horsepower and 51 torques up on the basic AMG GT.
The GT-R's grille is a tribute to a legendary car in Mercedes-Benz' history: the 1952 300 SL.
The first of the SLs was an out-and-out racing car, and it also won Le Mans that same year. For the Carrera Panamericana, held across the Pan-American Highway in Mexico, Mercedes-Benz brought its works drivers, three cars, trucks filled with parts, and mechanics directly from Germany to tackle the event. Karl Kling and Hans Klenk won the event in the Sports Car category in spite of a bloody incident that took place during the first stage.
The story goes that, exiting out of a flat-out right-hand curve, the Mercedes collided with a vulture at some 120 mph. The bird broke through the windshield on Klenk’s side and knocked him unconscious. In spite of his facial injuries and his bleeding, Klenk quickly regained his composure and told Kling to keep the pedal down. The two drove for a further 43 miles before they could stop for a tire change. Only then did Klenk receive some medical attention and the mechanics mounted eight vertical bars in place of the windshield to protect the driver and co-driver from other unforeseen hazards.
Note: 1957 - 1962 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing (W194) pictured here.
What’s more interesting than the macabre bird incident, which, however, became part of the race’s folklore, is that Klenk used an early form of pace notes to guide Kling along the way. Even before Denis Jenkinson pioneered his roll of paper for pace notes ahead of the 1955 Targa Florio he would win with Stirling Moss doing the driving aboard the 300 SLR. Mercedes’ pre-war hero Herman Lang finished runner-up in another 300 SL. Sadly for the Silver Arrows, a 1-2-3 result was dashed after John Fitch got disqualified for outside assistance.
Nowadays, the story of the ’52 Carrera Panamericana race is mostly forgotten but the Panamericana grille has proved to be highly popular as it ended up being adopted by a number of high-performance AMG-tuned models including the A35 AMG, the C63 AMG, the GLC63 AMG, the S Class Coupe, the CLA, and the CLS.
The headlights, from what we can see, are of the narrow kind and that's exactly the kind of lights that the A45 sports, but so does the CLA.
However, our best bet is that we’re getting our first look at the A45 AMG, a hot hatch that’s already been out testing for a while.
Mercedes-Benz will offer the A45 in two versions: the ’normal’ 383 horsepower one (28 horsepower over the old A45) or the souped-up A45S with 416 ponies on tap, a whole 16 more than the five-cylinder Audi RS3. The A45 is still powered by a 2.0-liter, four-pot.
If, indeed, we’re looking at the A45 AMG then we are looking at the new power king in the world of hot hatches. Remember, the old A45 was hailed as the ’most powerful four-cylinder-engined car’ ever.
Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GT
Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes CLA45 AMG