Mercedes is planning a smaller, cheaper brother to the SLS supercar, which will rival the Porsche 911 and Jaguar C-X16.
Talking exclusively to Auto Express, Christoph Jung, development director of performance division AMG, revealed: “There is room for an AMG model below the SLS, targeting the Porsche 911. This is the next market for AMG, and we are considering what is the right package.”
Jung said the success of the £168,000 gullwing-doored SLS – which has now sold 5,000 models since 2009 and grown to include a Roadster version – had paved the way for a second AMG model. This would further establish it as a producer of sports cars separate to the regular Mercedes range.
“It is important to work on our brand and grow it. Look at the Porsche 911 – it is a huge success. They have done a very good job in evolving it over the years. Now, thanks to the SLS, companies like Porsche see AMG as competition. Everyone recognises that AMG can produce super sports cars.”
Although the new sports car is in the early stages, Jung revealed some details. It will have two seats – “otherwise it will be too heavy” – and be powered by a front-mounted V8 engine: “It has to be a V8. We have heritage and customers expect it.”
Most likely a development of the firm’s latest 5.5-litre twin-turbo, this engine would produce up to 500bhp, driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. Expect 0-60mph in four seconds and a top speed of 185mph. “We have to have performance figures close to competitors, but we need much more,” Jung told us. “We need it to sound right and go right. It can’t just be the most powerful. It has to have the whole package.”
The new model is also likely to be highly efficient, boasting stop-start and other efficiency-boosting measures.
Jung said that AMG had been paying particular attention to Jaguar. “It is very interesting for me to see the C-X16 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but I think the starting price of 60,000 Euros [£52,000] is very ambitious.”
Jung hinted the new SLS model would have to start at around 80,000 Euros (£70,000) in order to be profitable. A coupe is a certainty, and a roadster could join it. “When you are new to a market, you can only offer one or two variants. You can’t expect to do more than that from the start.”
No dates have been confirmed, but such a car is likely to be three years away at the earliest.