If you’re wondering what the future holds for the high end of the Mercedes-Benz model range, Automobile magazine is reporting on the possibility of a new line of vehicles internally designated as the “SLM”. Falling about $20,000 below the price point of the new SLS AMG ($189,000), the models are said to be true mid-engine designs, thus allowing Mercedes to directly compete with the Audi R8 and the upcoming production version of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics coupe. Design wise, the models will not resemble the current Gullwing, but they will likely use a modified version of the SLS AMG’s aluminum spaceframe.
As for body types, Automobile speculates there may be as many as three versions of the SLM: a coupe, a roadster and a hatchback. On the coupe, the publication suggests a coupe with “heron-wing” doors (they swing out and then pivot up at a 45-degree angle) will be the likely starting point, whereas the roadster will likely be more of a speedster design (featuring a cut-down windshield and manually operated cloth top). As for power, look for a 350-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 paired with two electric motors positioned in front of the driver to supply thrust, while the front axle, battery technology, and the electronics platform will likely be based on those found in the upcoming 2012 Mercedes SLS E-Cell.
At this point, this is all purely speculation. If indeed the Mercedes SLM does come to fruition, it likely won’t be until 2015, and there’s a whole lot that can change between now and then. If we hear anything new, we’ll let you know, but in the meantime, you can read Automobile’s complete predictions for a Mercedes SLM and take from it what you will.