CarAdvice spies have photographed the best images yet of the Mercedes-Benz car that could adopt the AMG GT name, and the German company’s head of sales and marketing confirmed timing to Australian media at the 2014 Geneva motor show.
“We are aware of the spy photos and it looks like it could be a very exciting sports car,” said Ola Kallenius, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Kallenius, who had run AMG since 2010 before being promoted to his current position, confirmed the sports car would use the same transaxle layout as the SLS – with the gearbox positioned at the rear wheels, taking power from the engine up front – though said the two cars had different approaches.
“It won’t be a direct successor to SLS,” said Kallenius of the new sports car that will be more compact in size than the Gullwing. “The SLS is an icon in its own right... A future-oriented car but picking up some of the pedigree of the 300SL of the ’50s.
“It lifted AMG as a performance division of Mercedes up to a fully-fledged true manufacturer status. From a branding point of view, psychologically for the whole company it was kind of a game changer.
“Now we are in business of producing sports cars starting with a clean sheet of paper in Affalterbach (AMG’s German headquarters).
“After success of SLS, why stop there. During my time at AMG, we made a decision that you can’t do one Gullwing after another. [The new sports car] has to stand on its own in automotive history like an icon car of its time, but we said let’s do another sports car and that’s what you’re going to see in the second half of the year.”
The SLS has been a success for Mercedes in terms of both image and profitability, though the AMG GT – or SLC as it has also been know during development – will be targeting much more significant volume.
Mercedes insiders told CarAdvice the car – codenamed C190 – is looking at annual sales in the region of 5000 to 10,000 units. It will be considerably cheaper than the Gullwing that cost about half a million dollars in Australia to take the fight to the Porsche 911.
A range of engines where the SLS and SLS Roadster used only a single V8 will help. The new AMG sports car will still offer V8 power – expected to be Benz’s new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 – though a source says a 285kW version of the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 found in the E400 is also a contender to be one of the more affordable alternatives.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT has been tipped to make a July debut at the German Grand Prix, which the company regards as its home F1 race.