Mercedes-Benz is planning some pretty major updates to the entirety of its product line. In a bid to fill every nook and cranny of the luxury auto market with some form of the three-pointed star, the company recently announced its intention to release eleven all-new models over the course of the next five years, which is in addition to ten new plug-in hybrids scheduled for release in the next three years.
To help sort through the glut of new cars, Mercedes has come up with a fresh nomenclature system that will be applied to all upcoming releases going into 2015. This system differentiates between vehicles via one to three upper case letters, which designate the car type (“GL” for SUVs/off-roaders, “CL” for four-door coupes, “SL” for roadsters, etc.) and core model series (A, E, S, etc.), plus lower case letters for the drive system (“d” for diesel, “h” for hybrid, etc.).
With this information in hand, we can breakdown the future model lineup with relative confidence, filling in the gaps as we go.
What new models will we see coming from Mercedes? Read on to find out.
Click past the jump to read more about Mercedes new naming strategy.
It’s been 11 long years since Mercedes unveiled the Mercedes Vision SLA and people are still talking about whether or not this little roadster will ever be produced. Each time a new rumor surfaces, another Mercedes model debuts and the rumor gets washed away (this is what happened a few years ago when the SLS roadster was unveiled). Now all of the chatter about Mercedes’ upcoming A-Class has drudged up the SLA rumors once again, stating that the German brand could be producing the small roadster as early as 2013.
Mercedes’ latest generation small car platform, known as the MFA (Mercedes Frontwheel Architecture), has been said to underpin four different Merc models: the B-Class, the A-Class, the BLS four-door coupe, and the BLK compact crossover. Australian magazine, Go Auto, is suggesting that this platform may also be used for the SLA Roadster - a small car ready to take on models like the BMW 1-Series Convertible and the Audi TT Roadster.
If produced, the SLA Roadster will be based on the new B-class architecture, meaning front-wheel drive for the first time in a Mercedes roadster. The two-seater soft-top convertible will share as many characteristics as possible with the concept unveiled in 2000, but will adopt the compact proportions of the SLK, SL, and SLS convertibles. Under the hood, Mercedes will place an all-new 1.6-liter turbo-charged direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine mated to Mercedes’ upcoming seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, as well as a six-speed manual transmission. The company may also be considering 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel models, but that’s an even bigger rumor than the SLA itself.
If produced, the Mercedes SLA Roadster should be seen in 2013, priced at around $65,000. Would we take a more expensive SLA Roadster over an Audi TT (currently $40,800)? Probably not, but it would be interesting to see what Mercedes could come up with.
Rumors about a small two-seat roadster based on the A-Class started to heat up again last week last week. What we heard then was that it was going to be based on Vision SLA concept. Now AutoCar has taken the lines of that concept car and reskined it to give an appearance closer to the rest of the Mercedes family.
If this little roadster becomes a reality, it probably won’t see production before 2012. By then it should be in hot competition with Volkswagen/Audi’s future mid-engined roadster and the BMW Z2.
As goes Volkswagen and BMW, so goes Mercedes. Since VW/Audi are going to make a small roadster and BMW is toying with the idea of a Z2, Mercedes doesn’t want to be left out, and is exploring the idea of making its own roadster based on the A-Class.
Mercedes already has a few design studies to work from, and it’s looking back to the SLA concept from the Detroit Auto Show in 2000. "It is part of the regular new-model review at Mercedes-Benz to look at ideas from the past," a senior Mercedes-Benz official told AutoWeek. "When the SLA was originally proposed at the end of the last decade, we didn’t have a suitable platform; the sandwich platform is too high and too heavy. This problem will be alleviated with the arrival of the next A-class, whose new platform provides much greater scope in terms of the sort of variants it can support."
In fact, the next generation of A and B-Class cars from Mercedes are built with the possibility of multiple variations across multiple markets, including the U.S. So, if Mercedes is going to used its bubble car platform to make things like an SUV, the least they can do is give us a fun roadster as well.
The best part about all this is that when the German roadster wars are in full effect, we get to be the winners. There will be plenty of light, cheap(ish) drop top fun cars to choose from.