The Mercedes-Benz SL range is growing. For years just a solitary model, the mainstay roadster has since spawned the smaller SLK, the fixed-roof Black Series and the McLaren SLR (in its many iterations). Slated to be replaced by the SLC supercar and supplemented by a new baby SLA, new reports indicate that with the next SLK on its way, a compact roadster could gain a gullwing hybrid variant as well.

While the two elements would seem unrelated, Mercedes engineers are reportedly set on using the classic SL door configuration as a space-saving, access-enabling solution. The battery packs for the electric motors are earmarked to sit in the door sills, leaving reduced space for entry and exit that could be alleviated by the use of the top-hinged gullwing doors that appeared on the original 300SL – the very same door type that is earmarked to appear on the new range-topping SLC.

The hybrid propulsion system – based on that of the Concept BlueZero E-Cell unveiled earlier this month in Detroit – will reportedly be supplemented by a gasoline-burning V6, an F1-derived kinetic braking system and start-stop engine management. Word is that the combination should be good for AMG levels of performance while returning exemplary gas mileage and low emissions. The next-generation SLK, which could itself include a folding glass roof mechanism, is expected to arrive by 2011, with the hybrid gullwing model following the year thereafter.

[Source: Auto Express]