The concept before the board is said to come in either a hardtop or a convertible, just like the Porsche 718. After that, Mercedes' must decide what kind of competitor it wants to make: mid-engined or front-mid-engined. If the carmaker plays it safe, reports suggest a front-engined platform that would share major pieces with the new AMG-tuned A35 and A45, including boosted four-cylinder engines. The latest 2.0-liter in the AMG A45 will be good for around 400 horsepower, which is 50 more than in the Cayman GTS.
The alternate direction would take inspiration from the AMG Project One hypercar, placing the engine in the middle of a brand new platform. The issue in the latter scenario is spending the money on a single-use architecture. Mercedes is said to be keen on leveraging its motorport involvement and spreading the halo love, though. A source told Autocar that mid-engined vehicles are "no longer taboo," and, "One idea is a sports car that is relatively attainable financially and ideally suited to track day running."
Either way, the carmaker would eventually plan to take its new sports car racing with a top-tier model aimed at the GT4 crowd. The same Mercedes source told the UK magazine that GT4 is "a rapidly growing business segment and it is high exposure for the brand."
No matter what, one feels the SLC's execution or replacement can't be far away. Despite the slight power bump on the 2019 SLC 43 and chippy performance, the perception is that it and the SLC 300 have wilted against the German competition after seven years in the ring. Nevertheless, the SLC outsold the 718 Boxster in the U.S. last year; adding in the Cayman, the SLC managed a little over half the sales of the competing duo.
Factoring in the GT4 angle, Europe could also be driving Mercedes' deliberations. There, SLC and 718 offerings sell in multiples of the U.S. numbers, with the 718 twins selling about 3,000 more units in 2017 than the SLC. And whereas SLC sales have declined so far this year, 718 sales are up. Even though the Porsche 911 sold better than the SLC, Boxster, and Cayman combined last year in the U.S., there's no denying what the 718 siblings have done for Porsche. If AMG can field a genuine street and track rival, Porsche's entry-level sports cars have shown just how much affordable performance prestige can do for a brand.