WHAT: A smaller sports car derived from SLS mechanicals.
SMALL, BUT NOT CHEAP: The limited-production SLV will cost as much as $100,000 - in the ballpark of the larger, but less exotic, SL550.
The exotic DNA of the gull-winged SLS AMG will likely spawn a smaller, aluminum-bodied, V-6-powered coupe and roadster currently under consideration by Mercedes-Benz for 2014. Internally, the project is known as SLV, where the V stands for variable body style - coupe, convertible, hatchback, roadster, you name it. For marketing purposes, though, the sports car could recall the iconic 1928-32 roadster with the SSK badge.
The idea behind the SLV is to make the most of the new Gullwing's aluminum spaceframe architecture conceived by M-B's go-faster AMG division. The six-cylinder engine destined to power the new lightweight sports car is code-named M276 and, in its most powerful form, should be good for about 400 hp. The twin-turbo, direct-injected V-6 will be mated to a dual-clutch automatic transmission. Unlike the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox in the SLS AMG, however, the SLV's transmission will feature two more gears. That's right - nine speeds. Also in the cards is a high-performance hybrid version of the new AMG powerplant with a 75-hp electric motor integrated into the gearbox.
To keep costs down, engineers intend to carry over the firewall, the front-engine layout, the transaxle configuration, and the core suspension from the SLS. Wheelbase, length, width, and height are, however, sufficiently flexible to generate a completely new two-seater that measures about 170 inches from bumper to bumper and tips the scales at approximately 3300 pounds. Providing the SLV swiftly clears all hurdles, it should debut at the 2013 Frankfurt show, although our spy illustrator has given his informed interpretation here. We don't know yet exactly what shapes the new AMG sports car is going to assume when sales commence in early 2014, but there will certainly be at least one open-top and one fixed-roof model.
WHAT: A two-door model of Mercedes' compact car that targets the Audi A5 and the BMW 3-series.
Mercedes is aiming to take on the BMW 3-series coupe and the Audi A5 with a two-door C-class. The coupe will arrive in mid-2011 following a face-lift of the sedan and the wagon this year. This explains the more sculptured hood, the restyled lights, and the enlarged nasal air intakes drawn by our spy illustrator. While the upward kink at the trailing edge of the rear window looks suspiciously like a BMW design cue, the wedge-shaped body and the sleek greenhouse convey Audi overtones.
Power for the C350 coupe, which will ride on the same platform as the two-door E-class, will be provided by an updated 3.5-liter V-6 producing 300 hp. Due to a disappointing sales forecast and high costs, the AMG model is currently on ice, a fate it shares with the proposed C-class cabrio. A hybrid model will use an electric motor integrated into the seven-speed transmission for modest fuel-economy and performance benefits. Mercedes also intends to offer a plug-in model, which uses a 60-hp motor for extended zero-emissions operation.
YET ANOTHER COUPE Mercedes-Benz used to make do with only two coupes - the CL and the CLK - but soon will have three: the S, the E, and the C, neatly mirroring the sedans. It sounds logical on paper, but are there enough two-door buyers to support the growth?
WHAT: Smaller Benzes to combat BMW.
WHEN: bls in Late 2011, blk in Early 2013
BELIEVE IN B The traditional b-class hatchback may be too dumpy for our american tastes, but m-b has plans to get its front-driver here. The BLS Four-door coupe was previewed by the f800 style concept at geneva and will be the cls's little brother. the blk, for its part, will be a smaller version of the Glk crossover. both should have starting prices of less than $25,000.
Busy, Busy Benz
2010 The trailblazing four-door coupe, the CLS, enters its second generation with more elegant, powerful styling; A face-lifted CL is renamed S-class coupe; the R-class has one last chance to prove itself with a taller fascia and hood that's more suv-like.
2011 Based on the CLS, a sporty four-door hatch called the CLT arrives; The SLK roadster delivers all-new bodywork and a tinted glass center section in the folding hard top; A sleeker and sportier ML-class has a hybrid-centric powertrain lineup.
2012 The aging S-class is replaced. A new, aluminum SL bows.