Though still at the plotting stage, Mercedes’s performance car division,AMG, is planning an enthusiast sportscar that would rival the Porsche 718 Cayman.
The new AMG model has been presented to Mercedes-Benz’s board of management as an indirect successor to the slow-selling SLC, with a possible mid-rear engine layout and styling to provide it with clear links to the upcoming 1,000hp-plus Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar.
The new 718 Cayman rival is currently at a conceptual stage and has been conceived to sit below the existing three-year-old GT in the AMG line-up and at a price comparable with that of its highly regarded Porsche rival.
The new AMG two-seater is planned to support two bodystyles –a fixed-roof coupé that would go up against the Cayman and an open-top roadster to compete with the Boxster.
Although still in its early days, the new car is being proposed for sale with the choice of two standard power outputs. These are expected to be similar to those of the upcoming A35 and second-generation A45 hot hatches, with more powerful track-focused-engine variants likely to round off the line-up over a seven-year model cycle.
If it receives the go-ahead, the new sports car will be the fifth dedicated AMG model, following on from the SLS, GT, GT 4-Door Coupé and yet to be officially named Project One.
A new sports car was first hinted at by AMG chairman Tobias Moers in an interview with our sister publication, Autocar UK, 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.
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.
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.
Although it is not yet signed off for production, word is that Mercedes-Benz’s management board is considering plans that would enable the new AMG sports car to share selected components with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz compact models, including the recently introduced fourth- generation A-Class.
Among the engines AMG is said to be looking at for its new model is the updated turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol motor.Set to power upcoming A35 and A45 models, it would provide the AMG sports car with up to 406hp, together with the potential for electric boosting through a belt-driven hybrid function.By comparison, today’s 718 Cayman is sold with a base turbo 2.0-litre flat four developing 304hp and a turbo 2.5-litre flat four with 356hp in standard guise and 365bhp in the existing top-of- the-line Cayman GTS.