The 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is proving to be one of the more exciting offerings of the next couple of years, and as the spiritual successor to the renowned Gullwing 300SL of the 1950s it makes sense for the car to be offered in a roofless variant as well.

There’s no official word yet from the automaker but it’s expected that a SLS AMG Roadster should surface sometime around late 2011 as a 2012 model. This would put it on a timeline to debut around a year after its tin-top brother enters the market in 2010--a period that matches the amount of time it took for the SLS AMG’s predecessor, the Mercedes-McLaren SLR, to get its own roadster variant.

While speculation is rife as to whether the new model will be a folding hard-top, à la the current SL convertible, a soft-top variant like the SLR Roadster is more likely as these latest spy shots and drawings from the European patent office reveal. This will allow the car to be as light as possible, keeping it nimble around corners and quick on the straights.

By the time the SLS AMG Roadster arrives, AMG will be using its new 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. The new unit, which debuts in the S63 AMG sedan late this summer, develops up to 571 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the current naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 develops the same 571 horsepower rating but ‘only’ 479 pound-feet of torque.

While the SLS AMG hard-top tips the scales at 3,571 pounds, it’s likely the Roadster variant will be nudging the 3,800 pounds mark or possibly even more. This should put a slight damper on performance compared to the hard-top, but then again those buyers opting for the Roadster variant don't necessarily put this at the top of their list of priorities.

The starting price in Germany is set at €177,310 (approximately $257,232) for the Gullwing Coupe--expect a slight premium for the Roadster. About two years after the release of the SLS AMG Roadster, Mercedes-Benz will also add an all-electric version of the car, which you can read about by clicking here.