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2010 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing SLS AMG At 2010 Detroit Auto Show

2011 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing SLS AMG (select to view enlarged photo)

2011 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing SLS AMG (select to view enlarged photo)

Bruce Hubbard and Bradley Hubbard
Auto Advisor Group
Motoring Times
The Auto Channel

The new Mercedes-Benz Gullwing SLS AMG will arrive in spring 2010 and offers the highest levels of automotive passion and advanced technology. This super sports Gullwing car dazzles with its clean lines, intelligent lightweight construction and superior handling. The new SLS AMG is nothing short of a masterpiece by Mercedes-AMG. As the first vehicle to be developed entirely by AMG, the SLS AMG is the highlight of the company's more than 40-year history.

The new Mercedes-Benz Gullwing SLS AMG boasts an aluminum spaceframe body with Gullwing doors, AMG hand built 6.3-liter V8 front mid-engine with 563 hp peak output, 479 lb-ft of torque and dry sump lubrication, seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle transmission and sports suspension with aluminum double wishbones at all four corners and a curb weight of 3,573 pounds – this exceptional combination guarantees driving dynamics of the highest order. The front/rear weight distribution of 47 to 53 percent and the vehicle's low center of gravity are testimony to the uncompromising sports car concept. The Gullwing SLS AMG accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, before going on to an electronically limited top speed of 197 mph. In Germany, its combined fuel consumption of 13.2 liters per 100 kilometers (U.S. EPA figures not yet available) puts it at the front of the competitive lineup.

The new Mercedes-Benz Gullwing SLS AMG is a superb reinterpretation of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL's breathtaking lines. The styling highlights are the striking Gullwing doors, which lend unparalleled charisma to the SLS AMG. The long hood, the low greenhouse positioned well to the rear and the short rear overhang with its extendable rear spoiler stand for performance, 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, but also the wide radiator grille with its large Mercedes star, the wing-shaped cross fin and the fins on the hood and fenders that recall the legendary sports car of the 1950s.

Eye-catching features of the side profile include the accentuated wheel arches and the pronounced shoulder line, which extends from the front to the rear end like a taut muscle. Athleticism and power are also expressed in the rear view of the SLS AMG. The gentle slope of the trunk lid with the automatically extending spoiler reinforces the impression of width, as do the slender LED tail lights.

In designing the interior, Mercedes-Benz designers took their inspiration from the aviation world. The visual centerpiece is the dash, which conveys breadth with its powerful, wing-like profile. The four air vents with cross-shaped, adjustable nozzles are integrated prominently into the dashboard – their shape reminiscent of a jet engine. The design theme of an aircraft cockpit is also reflected in the long center console in matte-finish metal. Integrated features include the AMG DRIVE UNIT, which enables the driver to create a personalized 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 enable easy entry and exit. They require less opening space than conventional coupe doors, and can be fully opened in a standard-size garage.

For the first time, Mercedes-Benz and AMG are presenting a car with an aluminum chassis and bodyshell. Compared with a conventional steel design, this results in a significant weight saving, as is clearly illustrated by the curb weight of 3,573 pounds.

The all-new bodyshell is constructed from an aluminum spaceframe. Lightweight aluminum extruded profile connects the cast nodes to form a robust structure. These aluminum sections guarantee a high sectional modulus (stiffness) and ensure the direct transfer of drive, braking and suspension forces. The structure minimizes undesirable flexing, meaning the vehicle responds rigidly, directly and with practically no torsion.

The bodyshell weighs 530 pounds – an absolute best in the super sports car segment in relation to the peak output of 563 hp. With a curb weight of 3,573 pounds, the power-to-weight ratio is an extremely attractive 6.35 lbs per hp.

The entire vehicle concept has been designed to achieve as low a center of gravity as possible. This applies to the low connection of the powertrain and axles, as well as to the stiff bodyshell structure.

The aluminum spaceframe forms the basis for outstanding passive safety. The extensive safety features include three-point seat belts with seat belt tensioners and seat belt force limiters, and up to eight airbags - adaptive front airbags and knee airbags for driver and passenger, two side airbags integrated within the seats and two window airbags that deploy from the waistline of the gullwing doors.

A powerful eight-cylinder Mercedes-AMG engine forms the heart of the new SLS AMG. The reworked 6.3-liter V8 engine develops 563 hp at 6800 rpm, making the SLS AMG one of the most powerful sports cars in its segment. The naturally aspirated engine delivers its maximum torque of 479 lb-ft at 4,750 rpm. The SLS AMG accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and has an electronically-limited top speed of 197 mph. The new hand built engine is an upgrade of the already superb engine designated as the 156. The new engine designation for the SLS is 159.

The reworked valve train and camshafts, the use of flow-optimized tubular steel manifolds and the de-throttling of the exhaust system improves cylinder charging, leading to an increase in output of almost nine percent or 45 hp . The eight-cylinder engine is extremely responsive and high-revving.

The use of high-strength components compensates for the increased engine loads associated with the higher output. Forged pistons, reinforced crankshaft bearings, an optimized crankcase structure and improved lubrication thanks to a demand-controlled, high-performance oil pump ensure the highest levels of stability.

The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine delivers its abundant power to the rear axle via an ultra-light carbon-fiber driveshaft – similar to the setup used in the DTM C-Class race car. The re-engineered dual-clutch transmission is mounted at the rear axle (transaxle principle) and connected to the engine housing via a torque tube. A carbon-fiber shaft rotates within the torque tube at engine speed. This sophisticated solution forms a rigid connection between engine and transmission that is perfect for the transfer of such high levels of power and torque. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission shifts incredibly quickly – in as little as 100 milliseconds - with virtually no interruption in drive. The driver can choose from four different driving modes - "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) or "M" (Manual). The automatic rev-matching function is active in the Sport, Sport plus and Manual modes. All modes can be accessed conveniently via the rotary control in the AMG DRIVE UNIT. The RACE START function provides optimum traction, as does the mechanical differential lock, which is integrated into the compact gear case. The combination of a front mid-engine and transaxle transmission ensures an ideal front/rear weight distribution of 47 to 53 percent. Mounting the engine behind the front axle has created the ideal conditions for perfect handling with precise turn-in, first-class agility, low inertia during spontaneous directional changes and outstanding traction. All four corners feature a double wishbone and track rod layout, a technology that has proven itself in motor racing right through to Formula 1.

Wishbones, steering knuckles and wheel mounts front and rear are made entirely from forged aluminum – substantially reducing the unsprung masses. This configuration also notably improves the suspension response. The long wheelbase of 105.5 inches not only results in outstanding directional stability, but also low wheel load shift, significantly reducing the vehicle's tendency to dive and squat when braking and accelerating. The broad track – front 66.2 inches, rear 65 inches – ensures lower wheel load shift from the inner to the outer wheel when cornering, enabling the tires to retain more grip. The rack-and-pinion steering gear provides direct steering feedback with a constant mechanical ratio of 13.6:1 – fulfilling the high expectations of a super sports car. Because the steering gear is mounted in front of the engine on the integral sub-frame, the engine sits very low. The Gullwing comes with 3-stage ESP as standard, and the driver can choose from the three modes "ESP ON", "ESP SPORT" and "ESP OFF" at the touch of a button. Even in "ESP OFF" mode, operating the brake pedal restores all the normal ESP functions. Years of different ESP systems allowed AMG to develop this superb system.

Wheel spin is controlled in all three ESP modes. If one of the driven wheels starts to spin, traction is improved significantly through targeted braking input. For dynamic driving, this ensures even better transfer of power to the road.

The AMG high-performance braking system with composite brake discs at the front ensures extremely short stopping distances even under high loads. Even better are the optional ceramic composite brakes with even larger brake discs guarantee even better braking performance. The ceramic brake discs have further improved thermal stability thanks to their increased hardness, while offering a weight reduction of around 40 percent. They let you know them make noise but if you want the ultimate in braking then add another $12,000.00 to the estimates base price of $200,000 to $250,000. This is not a limited production vehicle as other AMG products with Mercedes have been. The Gullwing SLS will probably be one vehicles sold for years by Mercedes Benz dealers.

Lightweight construction was also key when it came to the wheels - weight-optimized AMG light-alloy wheels – 9.5 x 19 inch (front) and 11.0 x 20 inch (rear) – made using the innovative flow-forming principle reduce the unsprung masses while improving driving dynamics and suspension comfort. In addition to the standard AMG 7-spoke light-alloy wheels, 5-twin-spoke wheels and weight-optimized 10-spoke forged wheels are available as an option. 265/35 R 19 (front) and 295/30 R 20 (rear) tires developed exclusively for the SLS AMG ensure optimum performance. Originally Continental tires were envisioned but finally they decided to use Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. AMG was established in 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, and is considered a pioneer in the field of vehicle tuning for motorsports. Following the cooperation agreement concluded in 1990 with Daimler-Benz AG, the company was gradually incorporated into what at the time was DaimlerChrysler AG in 1999. On January 1, 2005, DaimlerChrysler AG acquired 100 percent of the company’s shares. Today Mercedes-AMG GmbH is a vehicle manufacturer in its own right, and AMG is the performance brand within Mercedes-Benz Cars. This subsidiary of Daimler AG specializes in unique, high-performance vehicles; its sporty sedans, SUVs, coupes, cabriolets, roadsters and custom one-off models form a product portfolio that offers something for every customer.

Mercedes-AMG factory is a masterpiece like the vehicles they build.

Expect to see more in the future from AMG design and marketing.

The estimated price of the reinvented Gullwing SLS AMG will start at $200,000.00 to $250,000.00 US dollars.

Numerous paints are offered. Some at no charge others are $3500.00. For the ultimate paint you can pay another $10,000.00 for hand applied Alubeam liquid metal paint. This paint has been used on limited edition AMG and Mercedes in the past.

As mentioned before optional ceramic brakes at $12,000. The extended carbon fiber interior option kit runs $9,500,00. It includes extended carbon fiber trim, plus the engine compartment trim panels, door sills and the lower portion of the seat base. A base interior trim option is less at $4500.00. For a Bang and Olufsen sound system add $6000. that includes ten speakers and output is1000 watts. A performance suspension adds another a $1500.00. Carbon fiber side view mirrors adds $5000.00. but according to Rob Moran at Mercedes expect that price to be reduced when the vehicle pricing is set in stone. AMG carbon fiber engine cover $5400.00. Designo light brown natural leather add $1000.00. AMG forged wheels $2.400.00.

For less than $300,000.00 US dollars you will have a vehicle that is a classic already. I believe the bang for the buck is one of the best ever, Last year I was in limited edition AMG convertibles that sold for $300,000.00! I cannot wait to test drive the Gullwing SLS from Mercedes.

History of the Mercedes-Benz Gullwing 300SL briefly is that it was a two-seat, closed sports car with characteristic gull-wing doors, and later, offered as an open roadster.

Built by Daimler-Benz AG and internally numbered W198, the road version of 1954 was based (somewhat loosely) on the company's highly successful competition-only sports car of 1952, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL (W194) which had less power, as it still had carburetors.

This model was suggested by Max Hoffman. Because it was intended for customers whose preferences were reported to Hoffman by dealers he supplied in the booming, post-war American market, it was introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show—unlike previous models introduced at either the Frankfurt or Geneva shows. The 300SL was best known for both its distinctive Gullwing or butterfly wing doors and for being the first-ever gasoline-powered car equipped with fuel injection directly into the combustion chamber. The Gullwing version was available from March 1955 to 1957. In Mercedes-Benz fashion, the "300" referred to the engine's cylinder displacement, in this case, three liters. The "SL", as applied to a roadster, stood for "Sport Leicht" or "Sport Light."

It was Max Hoffman, Daimler-Benz's official importer in the USA, who convinced DBAG management in Stuttgart that a street version of the 300SL would be a commercial success, especially in the US. Hoffman's prediction was correct since more than 80% of the vehicle's total production of approximately 1400 units were sold in the US, making the Gullwing the first Mercedes-Benz which sold in bulk outside its home market. The 300SL is credited for changing the company's image in America from a manufacturer of solid, but staid, automobiles to that of a producer of sporty cars.

The clean styling of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is highly evocative, reinterpreting the breathtaking lines of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The styling highlight is the striking Gullwing doors, which give the SLS AMG unparalleled charisma.

By Bruce Hubbard and Bradley Hubbard

The Auto Advisor

Motoring Times