A new sports car was first hinted at by AMG chairman Tobias Moers in an interview with Autocar earlier this year. It is said to be favoured over a dedicated AMG SUV because of its potential to build on the firm’s motorsport heritage, which extends back to 1967, and the formative days of the company that came under the controlling interest of Mercedes-Benz in 1999.
A senior Mercedes-Benz manager, when asked about AMG’s proposed plans, said: “A lot of thought has gone into how Mercedes-AMG can better leverage its success in motorsport, particularly Formula 1 and endurance racing. One idea is a sports car that is relatively attainable financially and ideally suited to track day running. But it is just an idea and not a committed project right now.”
Potential sales volume is set to be an important consideration in the impending decision by Mercedes-Benz board members whether to place the newly proposed sports car into production. However, much of the momentum behind the push for this new model is said to come from the growing interest in GT4 racing and the potential beneficial effect for the rest of the AMG line-up in terms of image through motorsport heritage.
Opinion: It’s all to play for, AMG
The company’s existing GT has been homologated to GT4 specification, but its €198,850 (about £175,000) price places it well out of the reach of most budding amateur race drivers and track day aficionados.By comparison, the Cayman GT4 Clubsport, revealed in 2015, has a starting price of €111,000 (roughly £97, 400).
“It’s a rapidly growing business segment and it is high exposure for the brand,” Autocar’s source said. “From a marketing perspective, it makes great sense, but you also need to ensure that it is financially viable in sufficient volumes and at a price to make it attractive to car buyers on a global basis. It would be additional business for AMG, not targeted at existing customers but new ones.”
A cloak of secrecy shrouds the proposed engineering of the new model, but one suggestion put to Autocar is that the Cayman rival could share certain elements with the upcoming eighth-generation SL, which is being engineered by AMG and is said to share key parts of its design with the GT. This means it would have a front-mid-mounted engine (with the unit positioned behind the front axle but ahead of the cabin), and rear-wheel drive. However, even though Mercedes-AMG has a long history of front-mid-engined performance models, insiders aren’t ruling out a mid-rear- engined layout for the new car.
Autocar’s source said: “Project One (below) represents the start of a new era for Mercedes-AMG, not only in terms of the electrified driveline but also the placement of it behind the cabin. Just how it will affect future models remains to be seen. However, a mid-rear layout is no longer taboo.”