The new SLS AMG is nothing short of a masterpiece by Mercedes-AMG GmbH. As the first independently developed vehicle, the super sports car is the highlight in the company’s more than 40-year history. It not only takes AMG, the performance brand within Mercedes-Benz Cars, into a new era, but also demonstrates development expertise of the very highest order.
The new super sports car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG makes for an alluring proposition with its unrivalled technology package: aluminium spaceframe body with Gullwing doors, AMG 6.3-litre V8 front-mid-engine developing 420 kW/571 hp peak output, 650 Nm (479 lb-ft) of torque and dry sump lubrication, seven-speed double-declutch transmission in a transaxle configuration, sports suspension with aluminium double wishbones and a kerb weight of 1620 kilograms (3571 lbs) based on the DIN standard – this superlative combination guarantees driving dynamics of the highest order. The front/rear weight distribution of 47 to 53 percent and the vehicle’s low centre of gravity are testimony to the uncompromising sports car concept. The ‘Gullwing’ accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds, before going on to a top speed of 317 km/h (197 mph) (electronically limited). The fuel consumption of 13.2 l/100 km (17.81 mpg/US, 7.57 km/l) (combined) puts it at the front of the competitive lineup.
The purist design of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG captivates by virtue of its passionate sportiness, and its reinterpretation of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL’s breathtaking design lines. The stylistic highlights are the striking gullwing doors, which lend an incomparable charisma to the SLS AMG. The long bonnet, the low greenhouse positioned well to the rear and the short rear end with its extendable rear aerofoil stand for dynamism, as do the long wheelbase, the wide track and large 19 and 20-inch wheels. It is not only the gullwing doors that are reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, as the wide radiator grille with its large Mercedes star, the wing-shaped cross fin and the fins on the bonnet and flanks also hark back to the legendary sports car of the 1950s.
Eyecatching features of the side view include the accented wheel arches and the pronounced shoulder line, which extends from the front to the rear end like a taut muscle. Dynamism and power are also communicated by the rear view of the SLS AMG: the gentle slope of the boot lid with the automatically extending aerofoil accentuates the impression of width, as do the flat LED tail lights.
Mercedes-Benz designers took their inspiration from the aviation world when designing the interior. The stylistic centrepiece is the dashboard, which ensures a visual impression of breadth with its muscular, wing-like profile. The four air vents with adjustable cruciform nozzles are prominently integrated into the dashboard – their shape is reminiscent of a jet engine. The design theme of an aircraft cockpit is also reflected in the long centre console of matt-finished, solid metal.
Features integrated into this include the AMG DRIVE UNIT, which enables the driver of the SLS AMG to choose a personal vehicle setup. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission is operated by the E-SELECT lever, which resembles the thrust control of a jet aircraft. Despite the low seating position typical of a sports car, the wide-opening gullwing doors allow easy access and egress. They require less opening space than conventional coupé doors, and can be fully opened in a standard-size garage.
The SLS also breaks the mould when it comes to the 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, as is clearly illustrated by the DIN kerb weight of 1620 kilograms (3571 lbs).
The newly developed bodyshell consists of an aluminium space frame. This exclusive design combines intelligent lightweight design with outstanding strength – thus delivering superlative driving dynamics. Lightweight aluminium sections connect the frame nodes to form a sturdy structure. The large, low-set cross-sections of these aluminium sections ensure high strength, and ensure the necessary, direct transfer of drive, braking and suspension forces. The structure prevents unwanted flexibility; the vehicle responds rigidly, directly and with practically no torsion.
45 percent of the intelligent, weight-optimised aluminium spaceframe is made from aluminium sections, 31 percent from sheet aluminium, 20 percent from cast aluminium and 4 percent from steel. Maximum occupant safety requires the use of ultra-high-strength, heat-formed steel in the A-pillars. The bodyshell weighs 241 kilograms (531 lbs) – an absolute benchmark in the super sports car segment in relation to the peak output of 420 kW/571 hp. With a DIN kerb weight of 1620 kilograms (3571 lbs), the power-to-weight ratio is an extremely favourable 2.84 kilograms (6.26 lbs/hp) per hp.
The entire vehicle concept has been designed to achieve a centre of gravity that is as low as possible. This applies both to the low connection of the powertrain and axles as well as to the arrangement of the rigidity-related bodyshell structure. Examples include the rigid flexural and torque connections between the front and rear sections and the safety passenger cell, which have been realised using force paths that are consistently as low as possible. This results not only in a low centre of gravity, but also in a harmonious and therefore efficient force path in the vehicle structure.
Passive safety at a high level
The aluminium spaceframe provides the basis for outstanding passive safety. The extensive safety features include three-point seat belts with belt tensioners and belt force limiters, and up to eight airbags: adaptive front airbags for the driver and passenger, a kneebag for each, two seat-integrated sidebags and two windowbags deploying from the waistlines of the gullwing doors.