AMG plans to follow up its new £155k SLS Gullwing with more stand-alone products, and next in line could be a smaller V8 coupe designed to rival the Porsche 911.
The first follow-up to the SLS range is at least five years away, and while there has been no official proposal to AMG's bosses at Mercedes yet (first the SLS must prove the business case for bespoke machines), internal debate at AMG seems to be gravitating to a more compact sports car built around a version of the SLS chassis. A rear-engined configuration has been eliminated as it would be out of step with the AMG brand values.
The new baby SLS is likely to feature a new-generation V8 - somewhere between 5.8 and 6.2-litre capacity - featuring direct injection and cylinder cut-off technology that will mean it only uses four cylinders around town, or at other times when serious performance is not required. (AMG is already developing this technology, which uses a hydraulic mechanism to close valves in the unused cylinders and thus take advantage of the 'spring' rebound of compressed air in the cylinder to minimise energy losses.)
Although the baby SLS seems likely to retain the front/mid-engined layout of its big brother, it will have a shorter front end. This is made possible because the SLS has a bonnet almost two metres long, and an engine set well back towards the driver, meaning there is a certain amount of empty space that could be cut out at the front of the package.
Before the new model programme gets under way, AMG has two important developments up its sleeve for the SLS itself - a cabriolet version that will be revealed late next year (possibly at the Paris motor show), and a new GT racer that will hit the racetracks in 2011.
Either way, AMG will support its motorsport activity by also making the SLS available to customers as a turn-key GT racer. This programme will also form the basis for the SLS 'Black Edition' road car that has recently been reported.