Mercedes-Benz-SLS AMG

The new SLS AMG will be the first Mercedes to use a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, for example, and comes with a bespoke version of AMG’s naturally aspirated ’63’ V8.SLS AMG is built entirely out of aluminium.Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but while it would be interesting to see Mercedes go after the Audi R8, don’t expect to see much change from €150,000. Which still looks like a bargain compared to the £250,000 SL 65 Black Series.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG March 12 2009

This is it, then. The new Mercedes-Benz Gullwing.

Developed entirely in-house by Mercedes’ AMG performance division, this incredible new 571hp supercar will officially be called the SLS AMG.

* GALLERY: Mercedes Gullwing

But Gullwing it is, and Gullwing is how it shall be known. This all-new, all-aluminium super Mercedes does indeed have the ultra special roof-hinged doors of its legendary predecessor. It will also be incredibly fast – 0-62mph in just 3.8 seconds, top speed 196mph. But we can’t yet tell whether it will be beautiful.

That’s because while Mercedes has revealed the new Gullwing in an enormous amount of technical detail, it hasn’t yet chosen to uncover what it looks like. As you can see from the pictures, the SLS AMG is still in full anti-paparazzi disguise at the moment. Mercedes is holding it back for that crucial motor show wow.
571hp V8 and a twin-clutch gearbox
Mercedes Gullwing (Image © Mercedes)

This will probably come at Frankfurt in September. In the meantime, there is all this technical info for us to geek out over.
The 6.2-litre lump produces an enormous 571hp – up from the 525hp maximum of any current AMG with this engine – and a chunky 479lb ft of torque. Modifications for the Gullwing include new intake system and exhaust, reworked valve train and camshafts, forged pistons, extra strengthening, and a reinforced crankshaft bearing.
A supercar that does 21.7mpg
Mercedes Gullwing (Image © Mercedes)

Dry sump lubrication reduces the engine’s height, so it sits lower in the car, improving the centre of gravity. Which is better for the handling. It’s also positioned well behind the front axle line, effectively making the SLS AMG front mid-engined. Also better for the handling. And the engine is lighter than the regular version.

Efficiency improving features such as the on-demand oil pump mean the SLS AMG should still be capable of around 21.7mpg – very impressive for supercar. The gearbox ought to help. This advanced, DSG-style unit is situated at the back of the car, and offers four different shift modes from "comfortable to extremely sporty".
Racing suspension and ceramic brakes
Mercedes Gullwing (Image © Mercedes)

Connected to the engine via a "torque tube" and a carbon-fibre driveshaft, similar to that used on Mercedes’ DTM racers, the gearbox even has a "race start" function. In other words, launch control, presumably like that available on Porsche’s clever PDK twin clutch auto. A limited slip differential helps traction.

With the front mid-engine layout and the rear ‘transaxle’ gearbox design, the Gullwing has 48-52 front-rear weight distribution, which Mercedes describes as "ideal". The suspension is double wishbones all round – like a racing car – and ceramic composite brakes are fitted as standard. Together with extremely light ‘flow-formed’ alloy wheels, these help reduce unsprung weight.
Better than an SLR McLaren?
Mercedes Gullwing (Image © Mercedes)

Unlike the Mercedes SLR McLaren it effectively replaces, the SLS AMG has been designed entirely in-house by AMG. We suspect that this will just make it even more special, as AMG may feel it has a point to prove after being forced to work with outsiders McLaren on the SLR project.

The troubled SLR, which seems to have finally found its raison d’etra in its last of the line "Stirling Moss" speedster incarnation, was always considered rather portly. With a target kerb weight of 1,620kg, the Gullwing should be lighter than the regular SLR but not by much.
2010 launch date
Mercedes Gullwing (Image © Mercedes)

And it’s some way short of beating the SLR 722 Edition’s 1,390kg. With less power, too. But then, the SLS AMG is built entirely out of aluminium, rather than using a carbon-fibre monoque, and the door design requires some serious engineering. It’s still far lighter than it would have been made out of steel.

Development of the new Gullwing continues throughout 2009, ahead of its launch in 2010. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but while it would be interesting to see Mercedes go after the Audi R8, don’t expect to see much change from £150,000. Which still looks like a bargain compared to the £250,000 SL 65 Black Series.

Whatever the cost, if these official photographs of the test drivers powersliding around in the snow are anything to go by, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing should certainly be a blast to drive…

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