Porsche is the golden boy of the automotive world: every manufacturer worth its salt has tried to dethrone it with a “Porsche Killer” at one time or another, with varying degrees of success (Nissan GTR owners have this phrase driven into their cerebellums ad nauseum). Why can’t we all just get along? But the automotive industry is a ruthless, constantly evolving one, and if Mercedes-Benz sees the chance to expand into yet another niche, then by God they will.
Mercedes’ tuning arm and carbon fiber writing utensil purveyor AMG is planning a car that can run with the Porsche 911—a step above the Boxster-killing SLK, and a notch below the GT3-killing SLS AMG. Or until Porsche introduces their next lavish range-topping supercar. The imaginary Benz would feature its 5.4-liter V8 positioned up front, but behind the front wheels for optimal weight distribution, with a couple of turbochargers thrown in for good measure. Pretty standard fare from Mercedes. But the power and range would match those of the 911: 500 horsepower can be expected for a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds, and coupe and roadster models (along with a dizzying array of special editions, in true Porsche fashion) will also be produced.
Are people willing to pay for Benz’s answer to the 911? And if that’s the case, what is the SL63 AMG for? “These products can’t just be built for fun,” said Ola Kallenius, AMG chairman. “We need a reasonable return to fund new projects.”
Kallenius understands the importance of expanding the AMG brand beyond the attention-grabbing SLS: What is clear is that we have entered a segment with an overwhelming reaction from customers and fans—and many of them are entirely new customers to AMG—so it would certainly be the right strategy to grow the AMG brand.”
To be fair, any Mercedes sports car—especially one emblazoned with those three magical letters—will sell. Whether it will sell at a level that will have Herr Winterkorn shaking in his Adidas High-Tops is a different question.