After the endless parade of rumors, conjecture, spy shots and even official information, Mercedes-Benz has finally dropped the full batch of details and photos of its latest flagship: the SLS AMG Roadster.
The new droptop loses the gullwing doors of its coupe counterpart, but those German engineers have gone to great lengths to ensure it loses nothing else in the process. Chopping the roof, fitting conventional doors, and stiffening the body as required results in a convertible that only weighs 88 lbs more than the coupe. The roof-available in black, red or beige-can be dropped or raised in just eleven seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.
Top speed is electronically limited in either position to 197 mph, while officially quoted acceleration times, for some reason, drop from 3.8 seconds in the gullwing coupe to 3.7 in the Roadster. Along with the convertible roof, Mercedes has also packed in a new electronically-controlled Adaptive AMG Sport Suspension, AMG Performance Media system to track and display vehicle telemetrics, and an AMG Drive Unit to control it all.
The Roadster – which beats the anticipated convertible versions of the Ferrari 458 Italia, McLaren MP4-12C, Pagani Huayra and Lamborghini Aventador to market – will be officially unveiled this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show, around the same time that deliveries are set to begin Stateside. In the meantime, you can follow the jump for all the details and check out the extensive photo gallery for a closer look.
The 2012MY Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
AMG is presenting a new dream-car: the 2012MY SLS AMG Roadster. This super sports car thrills with a perfect combination of open-top driving pleasure, outstanding driving dynamics and sophisticated lightweight construction. The 2012 SLS AMG Roadster will make its U.S. debut in Fall 2011.
The technological highlights of the 2012 SLS AMG Roadster include an aluminum spaceframe body, an AMG 6.3-liter V8 front-mid engine with dry sump lubrication developing a peak output of 563 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque, a seven-speed dual clutch transaxle transmission and a sports suspension with aluminum double wishbones – all of which will raise the pulse of sports car enthusiasts while providing outstanding driving dynamics and driving pleasure.
The compact fabric soft top of the SLS AMG Roadster opens and closes in just eleven seconds, and can be operated on the move at speeds up to 31 mph. The new Adaptive AMG Sport Suspension with electronically controlled damping is available as an attractive optional extra. It enables the damping characteristics to be modified at the touch of a button. Using the AMG DRIVE UNIT, the driver of the SLS AMG Roadster is therefore able to choose his own suspension setup. Three modes are available: "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport plus".
"AMG Performance Media" is a unique new feature: this innovative, motorsport-inspired multimedia system offers an unrivalled combination of numerous telemetric displays such as lateral and linear acceleration, various engine data and lap times on a racetrack.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "The SLS Roadster is a super sports car, cruiser and highly desirable dream-car all in one. In its distinctive way, it continues the succession of iconic and exciting sports cars from Mercedes-Benz."
Ola Källenius, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: "Systematic lightweight construction, outstanding performance and a breathtaking design combined with sensuous open-air driving pleasure – the new SLS AMG Roadster perfectly embodies the AMG philosophy of German engineering and craftsmanship. The gullwing model has already thrilled sports car fans all over the world, and now the convertible version is bound to cause a sensation."
Pure roadster design with perfect proportions
The new Roadster adds a second exciting dream-car to the SLS AMG family. Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz, Gorden Wagener: "As in the gullwing model, the pure, athletic design immediately catches the eye. Whether with the roof open or closed, the SLS AMG Roadster is an impressive visual delight!" The perfect proportions are particularly memorable: a long hood, the greenhouse positioned well to the rear and a short rear end. Plus the automatically extending rear wing, long wheelbase, wide track and short overhangs – in short, the convertible SLS AMG exudes effortless performance and an authentic charisma. The pronounced shoulder sections are reminiscent of tensed muscles, and suggest sheer power in combination with the large wheels – 265/35 ZR 19 (front) and 295/30 ZR 20 (rear). The attractive AMG Sepang brown metallic paint finish and weight-optimized forged wheels in a 10-spoke design, painted in matte black with a high-sheen rim flange, are available as new optional extras.
Features reminiscent of the 300 SL Roadster, the classic dream-car from the 1950s, include not only the wide radiator grille with its large Mercedes star and the wing-shaped cross-fin, but also the fins on the hood and on the vehicle sides. Like the SLS AMG Roadster, the 300 SL Roadster appeared slightly later than the original gullwing 300 SL, but unlike the SL's both AMG dream cars are available at the same time.
Interior atmosphere like an aircraft cockpit
The interior continues the breathtaking design idiom of the exterior, and awakens associations with an aircraft cockpit: prominent features include the dashboard in the shape of a wing and the air vents with adjustable, cruciform nozzles reminiscent of jet engines. The extended center console of matte, solid metal and the new E-SELECT lever in the shape of an aircraft's thrust control are also design features adopted from the world of aviation. Another discreet, fine detail is the embossed AMG emblem on the leather-lined selector lever.
The AMG DRIVE UNIT – which like numerous other interior features is available in genuine carbon-fiber – is the central control unit in the center console: it allows the driver to choose a personal vehicle setup, including adjustment of the optional Adaptive AMG Sport Suspension. The AMG Performance steering wheel with its high-grade premium leather lining and flattened bottom rim section provides perfect vehicle control. The shift paddles and lower steering wheel bezel are made of solid metal.
Fully automatic, weight-optimized soft top
The sensual experience in the 2012MY SLS AMG Roadster is further enhanced when the soft top is open, and the powerful, naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine with 563 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque asserts itself and makes the heart beat faster with its distinctive AMG eight-cylinder sound. The fabric soft top can be opened and closed while on the move at speeds up to 31 mph; the fully automatic opening/closing process takes only eleven seconds. The driver only needs to operate the roof control unit conveniently integrated at the front of the center armrest. When open, the soft top is space-savingly retracted behind the seats in a folded Z-configuration. Three soft top colors – black, red and beige – are available to suit the nine exterior and eight interior colors.
The three-layered fabric soft top is a weight-optimized magnesium/steel/aluminum construction, and contributes greatly to the car's low center of gravity. The soft top has a seamlessly bonded rear window of heated singlelayer safety glass. The flush, gap-free transition between the outer roof skin and the rear window keeps wind noise low. A continuous, flexible water pocket running under the soft top catches rainwater and directs it to the underbody via two apertures on each side. The trunk capacity is 6.1 cubic feet with the roof either open or closed, and therefore roughly equal to that of the SLS AMG Coupé (6.2 cubic feet).
Outstanding material quality and finish
The finest leather, matte-finished solid metal or optional, genuine carbon-fiber trim create an exclusive ambience and correspond with the authentic feel of the cockpit. Precisely executed decorative and contrasting stitching enhances the visual impression, heightens the hand crafted look and reflects the attention to detail which is the hallmark of Mercedes design.
The standard appointments of the SLS AMG Roadster include black designo leather, heated AMG sports seats, a detachable glass windstop, COMAND with Navigation and DVD player, anti-theft alarm system with tow-away protection and interior monitoring, dual-zone automatic climate control and the KEYLESSGO starting function. The standard AIRSCARF® system exclusive to Mercedes- Benz acts like an invisible scarf warming the head and neck areas of the occupants. It is integrated into the backrests of the AMG sports seats, and blows warm air from vents in the head restraints. The airflow can be adapted for different occupant sizes by means of adjustable louvers, and the level of warmth can be selected in three stages at the touch of a button.
Leather-lined roll-over bars with integrated mesh in a "Silver Shadow" look are available in conjunction with designo Exclusive leather to reduce turbulence in the cockpit. Ambient lighting is integrated into the electrically folding exterior mirrors. Single-tone or two-tone designo leather in espresso brown is available as a new interior color – this dark shade of brown perfectly matches the new metallic paint finish AMG Sepang brown.
AMG Performance Media and Bang & Olufsen as optional highlights
In addition to the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG surround sound system, another optional entertainment highlight is the AMG Performance Media. In an unprecedented way, this racing-inspired system combines numerous telemetric displays such as engine data, lateral and linear acceleration and lap times on a racetrack. AMG Performance Media is activated by pressing the AMG key in the AMG DRIVE UNIT, and operated using the COMAND Controller. Key functions at a glance:
Real-time display of engine oil, coolant and transmission fluid temperature
Real-time display of engine output, torque and accelerator position
Real-time display of individual tire pressures
Real-time display of acceleration time from 0-60 mph (alternatively: quarter-mile)
Real-time display of lateral and linear acceleration combined with braking performance and accelerator position, including memory function
Recording of individual lap times on a closed racetrack, with sector times and memory function
Integration of DRIVE UNIT functions to save setup data to memory and initiate RACE START
The different functions of AMG Performance Media are shown by the color display integrated into the dashboard. Three displays are shown at any one time, with the most important information positioned in the center. Digitally simulated dial instruments with red needles ensure outstanding legibility.
Specifically reinforced aluminum spaceframe, low curb weight
In addition to maximum comfort, the key factor for driving pleasure in the new SLS AMG Roadster is the outstanding performance. The basis for this is the innovative body design: the chassis and body are made of aluminum, a design combining intelligent lightweight construction with high strength. With a curb weight of 3,661 pounds (estimated), the Roadster is only 88 pounds heavier than the Coupé. The result is a remarkable power-to-weight ratio of 6.5 pounds per hp.
To achieve the same level of driving dynamics – without a fixed roof, the SLS AMG Roadster incorporates several features specifically designed to strengthen the bodyshell, including side skirts with greater wall thicknesses and additional chambers. The dashboard cross member is supported against the windshield frame and center tunnel by additional struts, and a curved strut between the soft top and the tank reinforces the rear axle. The lack of a roof and gullwing doors means that the open-top SLS AMG has a reinforcing crossmember behind the seats to support the fixed roll-over protection system. This also accommodates the 250 watt subwoofer of the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG high-end sound system.
All this prevents unwanted vibrations right from the start, and makes it unnecessary to use the additional, weight-increasing vibration dampers that are often found in open-top sports cars. The weight-optimized aluminum spaceframe weighs 536 pounds, tipping the scales at just 4.5 pounds more than the gullwing model.
Intelligent material mix and low center of gravity
50 percent of the intelligently designed, weight-optimized aluminum spaceframe is made of aluminum sections, 26 percent of sheet aluminum, 18 percent of cast aluminum and 6 percent of steel. Maximum occupant safety requires the use of ultra-high-strength, heat-formed steel in the A-pillars.
The entire vehicle has been designed to achieve the lowest possible center of gravity. This applies both to the low connection points of the powertrain and axles, as well as to the arrangement of the rigid bodyshell structure, which has been kept as low as possible. Examples include the rigid flexural and torsional connections between the front and rear section and the passenger safety cell, which have been designed to use force paths that are as low as possible.