...But Palmer says the cars themselves will remain driver-focused. And yes, that does mean manual gearboxes, even with the forthcoming AMG V-8 engine (which Mercedes doesn't offer with a clutch pedal).

"I would love to be the last car manufacturer providing stick shifts in the U.S.," he said. "That's my hope, we will keep the faith. And even as the industry moves to twin-clutch transmissions, at the heart of each of those you still have a manual transmission. It's only a matter of breaking it into its parts, and that's where I started my career, as a transmission engineer."