March 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm by Jens Meiners | Photography by AFP/Getty Images
Benz’s Vision SLA concept debuted nearly 15 years ago, and the idea of a Benz roadster slotting beneath the SLK-class has yet to die.
When Mercedes-Benz launched the Vision SLA concept at the Detroit auto show in January of 2000, the brand called it “the precursor of a small roadster from Mercedes-Benz.” Little did Benz know the avalanche of speculation it would trigger, or it might have phrased its release a bit more carefully. Rumors about a tiny roadster keep resurfacing year after year, and now the topic has reared its head again, in the form of a piece by autoevolution.com, whose sources say that an SLA “isn’t yet out of the question.”
What is out of the question is anything even remotely resembling the initial concept, which was based on the first-generation A-class and powered by a 125-hp, 1.9-liter four. A new model would have to look different; in fact, the original SLA concept’s tinny appearance was barely tolerated even within Mercedes-Benz, a reliable source tells us.
A new SLA would use the platform of the next-generation A-class, which is at least four or five years away. Such timing would jibe with what Benz sources have told us: apart from a CLA-class shooting brake, there will be no further body variants of the current A-class. But consider us skeptical anyway: The segment is microscopic, and over the past few years, both the Renault Wind and the Opel Tigra have made silent exits. Nevertheless, we love this classic bit of automotive speculation, which is quickly approaching its 15th anniversary, nearly unfazed by reality.