Our spy photographers managed to take these photos of the Mercedes-Benz "baby SLS", a new smaller supercar likely to be called the SLR AMG. As seen here testing in Europe, the SLR AMG will look remarkably like the larger SLS AMG -- even down to the vertical-opening gullwing doors.
First, a note on the name. Mercedes previously sold a supercar called the SLR, which was a joint project with McLaren. That car gave way to the SLS AMG, currently Mercedes' supercar offering. We've long heard that the automaker would build a "baby SLS", probably called the SLC. However, recent reports reveal that Mercedes has revamped its naming structure. Under the new arrangement, this car will be called the SLR AMG. Still with us?
The family resemblance between this SLR AMG prototype and the SLS AMG is clear. The smaller car shares the long-nose, stubby cockpit proportions of its big brother, with the adjustable rear wing and gullwing doors among the biggest styling giveaways. The five-spoke wheels on the front axle of this tester are clearly from the AMG parts bin; let's hope the ugly rear wheels are just for testing purposes.
The familiarity goes more than skin-deep, as the SLR should use a shortened version of the aluminum chassis employed by the SLS AMG. Mercedes approved the SLR project earlier this year as a way to take on the perennially popular Porsche 911; the "baby SLS" will probably be similar in size to the 911 and should cost somewhere around $100,000 to $120,000 when it goes on sale in 2014. Although the car seen here is a coupe, a roadster is also in the cards.
The long nose will probably conceal some sort of V-6 engine, possibly with turbocharging, while a dual-clutch transmission will transmit power to the rear wheels. Exact performance figures are unknown at the moment. Either way, Mercedes will be focusing more on agility. The SLR should be lighter and nimble than some other AMG sports cars, endowing it with the back-road grace and prowess necessary to tango with the Porsche 911.
As the Mercedes SLR AMG isn't expected to go on sale until 2014, we probably won't see the car until a major auto show some time next year.