Mercedes-Benz has used the occasion of the 2009 Geneva Motor Show to release the first official details about a car that won't even be shown in Switzerland at all. It is the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, which has long been referred to as the SLC or modern day Gullwing. Mercedes has confirmed that the car will feature the same gullwing-style doors made famous by the classic 300SL, and from there things get very interesting.
While not ready to unveil the final design of the car, Mercedes did release dozens of images of SLS prototypes being tested by its engineers. It's readily apparent that the SLS looks smaller than Mercedes' current supercar, the SLR McLaren, but the smaller shape just hints at extensive weight saving measures. An all-new aluminum space frame contributes to a curb weight of just 3,571 lbs, a full 300 lbs less than the SLR McLaren. The SLS also rides on a long 105.5-inch wheelbase with a front track that's 1.2 inches wider than the rear.
Power will be provided by a tuned version of AMG's familiar 6.2L V8 producing 563 hp at 6,800 rpm and 479 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. The engine, which sits low and behind the front axle, will send all that power across a carbon-fiber driveshaft to the rear axle where a new seven-speed dual clutch gearbox carves it up. There will even be a Race Start launch control function that guarantees an estimated 3.8-second 0-62 time every time. Top speed: 196 mph. Stopping? 15.4-inch discs in front squeezed by six-piston calipers and 14.2-inchers with four-piston calipers out back, and a full set of carbon ceramic rotors will be optional.
Pricing hasn't yet been released, but expect to drop at least 200 large on the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG when it goes on sale. The car is clearly not ready for the showroom yet, but Mercedes just wanted us all to know it's coming... fast.
UPDATE: Official press release added after the jump.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: high-tech and fascination - The new 'Gullwing' from Mercedes-Benz
For the first time in the company's history stretching back over 40 years, the Mercedes-Benz performance brand is presenting a vehicle developed in-house, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The super sports car serves up an exciting proposition with its unique technology package: aluminium spaceframe body with gullwing doors, AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid engine developing 420 kW/571 hp peak output and dry sump lubrication, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in a transaxle configuration and sports suspension with aluminium double wishbones. The ideal front/rear weight distribution of 48 to 52 percent and the vehicle's low centre of gravity are testimony to the uncompromising sports car concept.
"Mercedes-Benz is presenting an exhilarating super sports car in the guise of the new SLS AMG, which is bound to set the pulses of all car enthusiasts racing that extra bit faster. The SLS AMG is emotion pure and simple for the Mercedes-Benz brand and is set to become one of the most alluring sports cars of our era", says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
"Our customers will experience with the SLS AMG the expertise of our sports car manufacturer Mercedes-AMG, built up over 40 years of motor racing, along with the kind of scintillating design that only a top athlete from the Mercedes-Benz stable can offer", says Volker Mornhinweg, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG offers purist, distinctive styling, superior driving dynamics and hallmark Mercedes everyday practicality and safety. During the development of the new 'Gullwing', the AMG developers placed their trust in the valuable know-how of the specialists from the Mercedes Technology Center (MTC) in Sindelfingen. The aim of this joint development was to turn the SLS AMG 'Gullwing' into the perfect synthesis of the strengths of the Mercedes-Benz and AMG brands.
Consistent lightweight design thanks to aluminium
The radical design as a highly talented dynamic super sports car with its low-slung front-mid engine set well back also feeds through into the proportions as well as the optimised lightweight body concept: for the first time, Mercedes-Benz and AMG are presenting a car with an aluminium chassis and body. Compared with the traditional steel design, this results in a significant weight saving, clearly illustrated in the planned DIN kerb weight of 1620 kilograms excluding driver.
The newly developed bodyshell comprises an aluminium spaceframe. This exclusive design combines intelligent lightweight design with outstanding strength – thus delivering superlative driving dynamics. Naturally, the aluminium spaceframe meets all the requirements in terms of passive safety and the hallmark Mercedes-Benz body quality that applies to any car sporting the Mercedes-Benz star. Despite the low sitting position in typical sports car fashion, the wide-opening gullwing doors make it easy to get in and out of the vehicle.
Fine-tuned AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine developing 420 kW/571 hp
The fine-tuned AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine achieves a peak output of 420 kW/571 hp at 6800 rpm, thus turning the SLS AMGinto one of the most powerful sports cars in its segment. A power-to-weight ratio of 2.84 kg/hp comes courtesy of the low vehicle weight. The eight-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine delivers maximum torque of 650 Nm at 4750 rpm. The 'Gullwing' accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, before going on to a top speed of 315 km/h (all figures are provisional). Bearing the internal designation M159, the V8 high-revving engine with its displacement of 6208 cubic centimetres has been thoroughly reengineered compared with the M156 entry-level engine and boasts all the hallmarks of powerful racing engines.
The principal measures in increasing output include the all-new intake system, the reworked valve train and camshafts, the use of flow-optimised tubular steel headers and the dethrottling of the exhaust system. This results in much better cylinder charging, which feeds through into an increase in output to 420 kW/ 571 hp with maximum torque of 650 Nm. The eight-cylinder engine responds swiftly to movements of the accelerator pedal, demonstrating much more pronounced high-revving flexibility across the entire rev range. The switch to dry sump lubrication also translates into a much lower position of the engine in the vehicle. And lowering the vehicle's centre of gravity has also paved the way for high lateral acceleration and exhilarating driving dynamics.
Perfect synthesis of lightweight design and strength
The use of high-strength components compensates for the increased engine load associated with the higher output. Forged pistons, a reinforced crankshaft bearing, optimised crankcase structure, along with improved lubrication thanks to an on‑demand high-performance oil pump ensure optimum durability.
Despite these higher loads, the engine weight for the M159 has been further reduced. The forged pistons as oscillating masses play a particularly valuable role in this respect. Thanks to targeted weight optimisation, the weight of the engine has been reduced further, resulting in a kerb weight of 206 kilograms and, in turn, a power-to-weight ratio of 0.36 kg/hp. The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine thus delivers the best figure by far compared with its competitors.
Sophisticated catalytic converter technology enables current and future exhaust emission standards such as EU 5, LEV 2 and ULEV to be met. The friction-optimised twin-wire-arc-sprayed (TWAS) coating on the cylinder walls – a process that remains exclusive to AMG– also reduces fuel consumption, as does the on‑demand, map-optimised oil supply along with the regulated generator management. Thanks to the targeted use of efficiency-enhancing measures, fuel consumption for the SLS AMG is around 13 litres of Super Plus per 100 kilometres (NEDC combined, provisional figure).
Dual-clutch transmission with transaxle configuration and torque tube
The AMG6.3-litre V8 engine delivers its abundant power via an ultra-light carbon-fibre driveshaft at the rear axle – similar to the set-up used on the DTM C‑Class racing touring car. The transmission is mounted at the rear (transaxle principle) and is connected to the engine housing via a torque tube.
A carbon-fibre shaft rotates at engine speed in the torque tube. The advantages of this sophisticated solution are associated with the rigid link between the engine and transmission and, in turn, the optimum support for the forces and torque generated. A new AMG dual-clutch transmission with seven gears takes care of power transfer. The transmission boasts fast gear changes with no loss of tractive force. The driver has a choice of four different driving modes, ranging from comfortable to extremely sporty, as well as a RACESTART function. Optimum traction comes courtesy of the mechanical differential lock, which is integrated in the compact transmission casing.
The chosen solution with a front-mid engine plus transaxle configuration ensures an ideal front/rear weight distribution of 48 to 52 percent. Mounting the engine behind the front axle has created the ideal conditions for consummate driving dynamics with precise steering, first-class agility, low inertia with spontaneous directional changes and outstanding traction. The suspension technology is also a match for these high standards: wheel location comes courtesy of double wishbones and hub carriers made of lightweight forged aluminium. The 'Gullwing' comes with 3-stage ESP® as standard, providing the driver with access to the three "ESP ON", "ESP SPORT" and "ESP OFF" modes at the push of a button.
Ceramic composite brakes, innovative flow-forming wheels
The AMG high-performance composite brakes all-round ensure extremely short stopping distances even under enormous loads. The newly developed, optional ceramic composite brakes with larger brake discs guarantee even better brake performance and lower unsprung masses. The ceramic brake discs will perform reliably at even higher operating temperatures thanks to their greater hardness, all combined with an impressive weight reduction of around 40 percent. Light-weight design was also a key consideration with the wheels: weight-optimised AMG light-alloy wheels – 9.5 x 19 inch (front) and 11.0 x 20 inch (rear) - based on the innovative flow-forming principle reduce the unsprung masses while increasing driving dynamics and suspension comfort. 265/35 R 19 (front) and 295/30 R 20 (rear) tyres developed exclusively for AMG ensure optimum grip.
The design and development phase for the super sports car got underway in the last quarter of 2006. The intensive vehicle testing programme will be complete by the end of 2009. Meanwhile, the reinterpretation of the legendary 'Gullwing' is scheduled to be launched in spring 2010.