The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is making its world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt on 15 September 2009. The supercar boasts lightweight engineering and superior handling dynamics. At the same time, the SLS delivers everyday utility and safety that typifies Mercedes-Benz.
The technology package includes an aluminum spaceframe body with gullwing doors; an AMG 6.3-liter, front-mid V8 engine with a top power of 571hp, and dry sump lubrication; seven-speed dual-clutch in a transaxle configuration; a sports chassis with aluminum double-wishbone suspension; and a kerb weight of 3560 lb. The weight distribution between the front and rear axles (47:53%) and its low center of gravity emphasize the concept’s nature. The gullwing accelerates from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and has a top speed of 197mph (electronically limited). The fuel consumption of 21.4mpg (combined, Imperial) is best-in-class.
The distinctive design of the SLS AMG dazzles reinterprets the 300 SL, one of the most recognized of the Mercedes-Benz brand. The nearly six-foot long hood, the rearward positioned cabin, and the short rear with extendable rear spoiler symbolize its dynamism, as do the long wheelbase, wide track and large wheels. The proportions are determined by the short overhangs and the design of the super sports car.
The stylistic highlight is without a doubt the gullwing doors, which make a unique statement in this vehicle segment. It is not just the gullwing doors that remind you of the 300 SL. The wide radiator grille with the large Mercedes-Benz star and the wing-like fin are also reminiscent of the face of the legendary sports car.
The three-dimensional, sculptured front-end with the low, V-shaped skirt gives the gullwing a powerful stance on the road. The car’s dominance is underscored by six large air intakes and the wide, vertical headlamps with central bixenon low-beam headlamps with metallic wing element framed by two LED indicators above two LED daytime running lights below.
Echoes of aircraft design are stirred by the exposed Mercedes-Benz star, whose cone in profile resembles the air intake of a jet engine. The long hood is also curved like a wing’s profile. The same effect is produced by the design of the four "silver shadow" fins gracing the air vent grilles on the hood. These aircraft-style lines also optically accelerate the air flowing past, giving the SLS AMG a dynamic appearance when standing still.
The fins on the hood are also repeated on the flanks. Aficionados will recognize this as another styling element of the 300 SL. The "6.3" badge integrated between the fins is a reference to the large displacement, naturally aspirated V8 engine. The compact passenger compartment has a high waistline, low side windows and steep windscreen which resembles a visor. The B-pillar is inclined to the front and transitions to the rear window.
The wheel arches are filled by striking 19-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) light-alloy wheels. Three different styles provide a view of the large, AMG high-performance composite brakes.
The gently sloping trunk lid, the pronounced shoulder and flat tail lights all give the car width. The unusual horizontal split lights provide an interesting look thanks to LED technology. In the shape of a wing, they impart a fascinating and distinctive night design. The LED fog lamp/reversing light is mounted low and in the middle, Formula 1-style. The black diffuser insert and the two chrome exhaust tailpipes are also inspired by motorsports.
The sharp indentations of the rear apron allows a clear view of the wide rear tires, while the spoiler integrated into the trunk extends automatically over 75mph to provide high speed stability.
The colour pallet for the SLS comprises nine exclusive shades. The highlight is the unique "AMG Alubeam silver" paintwork. The new process lets the paint shine like liquid metal. The paint covers the body like a metallic skin, emphasizing the gullwing’s fascinating design more strongly than any other paintwork. This effect would not be possible without tiny pigments measuring 30 to 50 nanometres.
The matte paints "designo magno Allanite Grey" and "AMG magno Sylvanite Grey" are just as attractive. Their silk matte surface emphasizes the sporty character of the two-seater by sharply defining the contours of the edges.
Drivers who raise the gullwing doors and sit in the sports seats will experience a special interior. In its conception, Mercedes-Benz took cues from aircraft construction to create an ambience that evokes associations with airplane cockpits. The defining stylistic element is the dashboard, whose powerfully extended wing-like profile creates the impression of width. The dashboard incorporates "silver shadow" electro-plated air vents with adjustable nozzles, which simulate the look of jet engines.
The instrument cluster with its LED shift display and two white circular instruments also appears sporty in the metallic silver shadow look. The silver dials have red pointers and a 225mph scale. The main feature between the dashboard’s two centre air vents is the COMAND multi-media system with its 7-inch screen.
The elongated centre console made of matte metal also takes up the plane cockpit theme. Among other things, the centre console incorporates the AMG Drive Unit, which is aligned towards the driver’s seat and enables SLS owners to customize their vehicle set-up.
The craftsmanship of the SLS interior is demonstrated by the use of materials such as nappa leather, metal detailing and, as an option, real carbon appliqué. All these features express great attention to detail. To help customize the interior, the leather is available in five designo colours: black, classic red, sand, porcelain and light brown.
Despite the low seating position typical of sports cars, which means the seats are located only 14.5" above the road surface, the wide gullwing doors ensure easy entry and exit. The designers made sure that the doors opened as wide as possible, so swing up to 70 degrees. Another important criterion is that the doors open and close with little effort even when it’s very cold, thanks to two gas-dampers next to the door hinges.
The gullwing doors require less room to open than conventional coupe doors and can be completely opened in standard-sized garages. The gullwing doors can be opened from the interior by means of a "silver shadow" opening handle. Thanks to the linkage system in the door’s armrest, the door is easy to handle when closing. The buttons for the power windows, the central locking system and the exterior mirror adjustment are also easily accessible in the interior.
The backrests of the sports seats are made of magnesium. This results in substantial benefits with regard to the vehicle’s weight balance and the lowering of its centre of gravity. The sports seats have two-zone seat cushions. Large side bolsters filled with harder foam ensure optimum lateral support, while the inner zones of the seats and backrests have purposefully been made softer for long-distance comfort.
The sports seats with integrated headrests and sporty transverse piping are covered with designo leather. Two-tone seats are also available in the colors classic red, sand and porcelain. Cars with the light brown interior use natural leather with quality braided leather for the center of the seats. Depending on the color combination, the sporty feeling is further enhanced through the use of fluorescent or black piping.
The SLS takes a new approach in its body concept. For the first time, both chassis and body are made of aluminum. This leads to significant weight savings compared to the traditional steel construction.
The vehicle’s body consists of an aluminum space frame, which combines lightweight design with the highest strength and thus further boosts the handling properties.
The heart of the new SLS is a 6.3-liter V8 engine, which has an output of 571hp at 6800 rpm, making the gullwing vehicle one of the most powerful sports cars in its segment. The engine is called the M159 and has a displacement of 6208cc. It has been restructured compared to the basic M156 engine, and displays the typical characteristics of high-performance racing engines.
The most important measures taken to boost its performance were the development of a completely new intake manifold system, the restructuring of the valve gear and the camshaft, the use of streamlined steel-pipe fan-type exhaust pipes and de-restricting the exhaust system. As a result, the designers have achieved significantly improved cylinder charging that boosts performance by almost 9%. Thanks to the change to dry sump lubrication, it has been possible to achieve a much lower installation for the engine.
The use of high-strength components compensates for the increased burden on the engine. Forged pistons, a strengthened crankshaft mounting, an optimized crankcase structure and improved lubrication by means of a need-regulated high-powered oil pump ensure maximum stability. In spite of the increased demands placed on it, the weight of the M159 has been further reduced. The forged pistons, as oscillating masses, make a particularly valuable contribution to this reduction. This results in a dry weight of 450 lb.
In spite of its sporty character, the vehicle has reached ambitious fuel consumption targets. The SLS AMG returns 21.4mpg (combined) thanks to measures such as the AMG-exclusive, friction-optimized LDS cylinder-bore lining, an oil supply that is regulated, and smart alternator management. When coasting and braking, kinetic energy is used to charge the battery rather than being transformed into heat. Conversely, the alternator is switched on without a load during acceleration, easing the burden on the engine.
The AMG 6.3-litre V-8 engine transmits its tremendous power to the rear axle via a carbon fiber driveshaft - similar to the DTM C-Class touring car racers. The dual-clutch transmission is located on the rear axle and is tightly connected with the engine housing by means of a Torque Tube. In the Torque Tube, a carbon camshaft rotates with the same speed as the engine. The advantages of this sophisticated solution include the rigid connection between the engine and the transmission, which results in an optimal response to forces and torques.
The new AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is characterized by quick shifting without any interruption of traction - minimum speeds of 100 milliseconds are possible. The driver has a choice of four different driving programs including Sport, Manual and Race Start. During the Sport, Sport plus and Manual driving programs, automatic double-declutching is active Optimal traction is guaranteed by the mechanical differential lock, which is integrated into the compact transmission housing.
The front-mid engine layout with transaxle ensures ideal weight distribution. Mounting the engine behind the front axle provided perfect handling dynamics with precise steering behavior. The aim of Mercedes-Benz and AMG was to build a sophisticated chassis layout. All four wheels are guided on dual A-arms with track rods, a technique that has proven itself up to Formula 1 level. With its high shatter strength and directional stability, the double wishbone concept decisively controls the wheel, with minimal springy movements, and gives the driver optimal contact with the road surface even in extreme situations.
The A-arms, steering knuckles and hub carriers at the front and rear axles are made entirely of forged aluminum to reduce the unsprung masses; and this in turn improves the responsiveness of the suspension.
Lightweight engineering played a key role with regard to the wheels: Weight-optimized AMG alloy wheels in accordance with the new "flow forming" principle will be fitted to the SLS AMG - 9.5x19 inches on the front, and 11x20 inches on the rear - reducing unsprung masses and boost handling. In addition to the standard seven-spoke design, customers can choose optional wheels with five double-spokes or forged wheels in a ten-spoke design.
Tires developed for the SLS AMG - 265/35 R19 in the front, and 295/30 R20 in the rear, ensure top performance. The gullwing will launch in early 2010.