AMG's supercar: the lowdown
Under the distorted Viper bodyshell of this hard-working prototype lies one of the most eagerly awaited cars in Mercedes-Benz's history: it's the first sighting of the new supercar to replace the SLR. This time Mercedes-Benz is developing the car inhouse, after the wranglings of the Anglo-German McMerc SLR project, which - though hardly a flop - has been widely considered a disappointment. Not so next time; Merc's inhouse performance wing AMG and DTM racing division HWA are taking control of the three-pointed star's next super-coupe, dubbed SLC. Read on to find out more.
Mercedes SLC, you say? Tell me more...
Yep, under this mule's disguise is Merc's new range-topper that will turn to one of the brand's most iconic cars - the classic 300SL Gullwing - for inspiration. And we hear that the coupe newcomer may be endowed with lift-up doors like its 1955 forebear. The SLC will herald an important new technology for Mercedes. Although it has some experience of using aluminium, this will be the first time it has used the lightweight material extensively - and the low-volume SLC is designed to pave the way for wider use of alloys. The 2012 SL roadster, codenamed R231, will be next to get the lightweight treatment.
What does this roadster mule tell us about the SLC's looks?
Not a huge amount, admittedly. But the general proportions of this left-hand drive car - the long, swooping bonnet and cab-back stance - suggest the SLC will be front/mid-engined and rear-drive. That's AMG's preferred layout, after all. We should know more next spring; Mercedes is rumoured to be readying a show car for the 2008 Geneva Motor Show that would spell out its vision for its new range-topper. We hear the two-seater will have a fixed carbon roof to lower the centre of gravity.
What'll she do mister?
AMG produces some punchy engines and it's likely that the SLC will be powered by one of the strongest: the 6.2-litre V8, tuned to produce somewhere north of 600bhp. If you believe some of the wilder rumours circulating in the industry, there could be an even more powerful twin-turbo version to follow. Merc has been badly burned with sales predictions of its more exclusive cars (the SLR is running behind schedule, with 'more than 1100 built' say officials) and it has lowered the goal for the SLC. We hear only 500 will be built in total, priced at around £120,000.