Mercedes-Benz has given its AMG division the green light for a second stand-alone model to sit alongside the new SLS, as part of a programme aimed at establishing the brand among the world’s supercar elite.
The new two-seater, which will be cheaper and sell in greater numbers than the SLS, will form the entry point to an expanded number of uniquely engineered AMG models when it arrives in showrooms in 2013.
“Mercedes’ management has been very supportive of AMG’s efforts in developing the SLS,” a senior official revealed to Autocar. “The feedback we’ve received since showing the car at the Frankfurt motor show has been extremely encouraging. A second model that will project a similarly exclusive image but be more accessible in terms of its pricing is already in planning.”
The new AMG is said to reflect a more contemporary approach, with modern styling created under Mercedes design boss Gordon Wagener.
While no official name has been given to the new car, those privy to early proposals say it sets out to encapsulate the spirit of the 1928 SSK, whose name is taken from the German words Super Sport Kurz (‘kurz’ means ‘short’).
In keeping with the plans drawn up for the SLS, the new AMG will come in a choice of two body styles: coupé and roadster. Like the SLS drop-top, the smaller AMG roadster is likely to have a cloth roof rather than a folding hard-top in a bid to keep weight down and improve packaging.
To keep costs down and save more weight, both coupé and roadster versions of the new AMG model will forgo the SLS’s expensive gullwing doors for regular front-hinged items.
“We’re not going to make a habit of providing cars with gullwing doors,” said Wagener. “It works with the SLS as there’s a link with the old SL, but don’t expect it to become common.”
In a bid to ensure there is no overlap, each of AMG’s new models will occupy its own particular market niche, with a price difference of over £70,000 between them.
“While the SLS was conceived to sit above the SL63 AMG, the new car is planned to be positioned a similar distance above the SLK55 AMG,” our source revealed. Priced from £80,000, its main rivals will be the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.
Like the SLS, the new model will use a lightweight aluminium spaceframe and double wishbone suspension. Power for the new car is likely to come from an all-new 500bhp twin-turbocharged 5.4-litre V8 engine. It is being developed for the upcoming CLS55 AMG.
The engine will be mounted in a front-mid arrangement and will drive the rear wheels via a seven-speed double-clutch transaxle and locking differential that’s likely to be lifted from the SLS.
According to AMG’s development chief, Tobias Moers this arrangement has been identified as being fundamental to all future stand-alone AMG models.
Performance should be every bit as good as Porsche’s 911 Carrera S — a car that, Autocar has learned, acts as the benchmark for the new AMG model. That means performance of around 4.5sec from 0-62mph and a top speed of around 180mph.
The inclusion of many of Mercedes-Benz’s BlueEfficiency measures, including stop-start and brake regeneration, as well as the possibility of cylinder deactivation and a heat exchanger, should also ensure competitive fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
A full electric version of the new car is also being planned, employing a similar set-up to that earmarked for the SLS eDrive, with four in-wheel motors and lithium ion batteries (see right). Mercedes and AMG want the electric version of the car to provide a range of up to 112 miles on a single charge, with 0-62mph acceleration in under 4.0sec and a top speed of 120mph.