MTCONFIDENTIAL

Motor Trend (USA) - - Intake - MIKE CON­NOR

Fer­rari has ad­mit­ted to care­fully op­ti­miz­ing cars to en­sure they per­form at their ab­so­lute best in me­dia tests. That’s not cheat­ing, they say, just … op­ti­miz­ing. And if one se­nior de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer at a ri­val au­tomaker is right, Fer­rari is very good at it. He says the Fer­rari 488 GTB his com­pany bought re­tail to use as a bench­mark ve­hi­cle feels nowhere near as good in terms of engine per­for­mance and chas­sis com­po­sure as the press cars he’s driven. So much so that he’s se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing drop­ping the Fer­rari from the com­pet­i­tive set. Wor­ried by de­clin­ing sales in the seg­ment, Porsche is re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing a bunch of op­tions for the next-gen 718—and none of them in­clude an all-new, all-porsche car pow­ered by a mid-engine in­ter­nal com­bus­tion engine. The most con­ser­va­tive op­tion in­volves a sim­ple re­skin of the ex­ist­ing ve­hi­cle; the most rad­i­cal, us­ing a short­ened ver­sion of the forth­com­ing Mis­sion E plat­form to create an all-elec­tric sports car. In the mid­dle? An all-new sports car that could be shared with Audi to spread de­vel­op­ment costs and boost sales vol­ume. Whis­pers around Weis­sach even in­clude a dooms­day sce­nario: ax­ing the 718 lineup al­to­gether. Mean­while, across town at Daim­ler, the de­ci­sion has al­ready been made: There will be no re­place­ment for the SLK road­ster. Orig­i­nal plans called for the next-gen SLK to have been de­vel­oped in con­cert with the next-gen SL, both cars shar­ing an all-new alu­minum in­ten­sive ar­chi­tec­ture. But now the next-gen SL will share its un­der­pin­nings with the next-gen AMG GT lineup, with all the ba­sic ve­hi­cle de­vel­op­ment for both han­dled by AMG. The move makes a ton of sense. The re­quired in­vest­ment in plat­form at­tributes and tech­nolo­gies for the two cars is sim­i­lar, and the GT can gen­er­ate higher prof­its for a quicker pay­back than the cheaper SLK. What’s more, the 911-fighter fo­cus of the GT range means the next-gen SL can be made a lit­tle larger to de­liver proper 2+2 seat­ing, and it can be given a slightly more re­laxed ride and han­dling bal­ance. Cri­sis? What cri­sis? De­mand for mega-dol­lar hy­per­cars shows no sign of slow­ing. As­ton Martin in­sid­ers report the com­pany could have sold the 175-car pro­duc­tion run of the rad­i­cal Adrian Newey–de­signed Valkyrie seven times over de­spite the $2.7 mil­lion price tag.

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