The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Sports Car Concept at Detroit

5 January 1999

Mercedes-Benz Unveils Sports Car Concept at Detroit; Bold Design Inspired by Formula One Champion and Legendary 1950s SL
    DETROIT, Jan. 4 -- Mercedes-Benz today unveiled a striking
concept for a high-performance sports car at its press conference preceding
the North American International Auto Show, January 9-17 at Detroit's Cobo
Center.  Called the Vision SLR, the car not only offers a stunning design for
a two-seater, but also hints at performance and safety technology that
Mercedes-Benz could offer in future vehicles.
    The new design study will blend futuristic styling from the current
Mercedes Formula One World Champion "Silver Arrow" racecar with classic design
elements from the famous Mercedes SL sports car and SLR racer of the 1950s.
The evocative design of its arrow-shaped front end is based on the Formula One
racecar that Mika Hakkinen drove to victory in the 1998 World Championship.
These racecar design cues also appear in the cockpit and along the body.
    The long chiseled hood, sweeping fender lines and unique doors hearken
back to the 1950s 300SL sports car and its SLR racing version which legendary
drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Rudolf Caracciola and Stirling Moss
piloted to numerous victories.
    The dramatic look of the SLR design study incorporates a double spoiler
across the front of the car and a new interpretation of the familiar
Mercedes-Benz "face" featuring four oval headlights.  The body is formed with
lightweight fiber-reinforced materials and aluminum.
    A 5.5-liter Kompressor (supercharged) version of the twin-spark/
three-valve Mercedes-Benz V8 engine produces more than 550 horsepower and
about 530 lbs.-ft. of peak torque.  This advanced powerplant gives the SLR
Vision truly staggering performance:  0-60 miles per hour in about four
seconds, 0-125 mph in just over 11 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph.

    A Leap In Braking Technology
    The technology that stops the Vision SLR is no less exciting than the
technology that makes it go.  A new electro-hydraulic brake system calculates
brake pressure for each wheel, relying on input from a variety of sensors,
including information on traction and stability.  The result is quicker
response from the brake pedal, optimum braking stability when cornering in wet
conditions and compensation for fade on any individual brake.
    The brake discs themselves represent a leap in technology.  Instead of
conventional cast iron, the discs are made from fiber-reinforced ceramics.
Not only are these brake discs 67 percent lighter than conventional discs, but
they can handle twice the temperature load ... up to 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Sports Car Interior of The Future
    Getting into the Vision SLR recalls the legendary 3OOSL "Gullwing" coupe
of the 1950s.  In the SLR, the doors are hinged at the A-pillar rather than
the roof, as they were on the classic 30OSL.  On the SLR, the doors swing
forward at a 75-degree angle to allow ease of entry.
    Inside, the Vision SLR features an all-new concept for a sports car
cockpit, dominated by a wide, gently curving console.  Instead of a
conventional instrument panel, the SLR Vision has a "spoiler" housing two
classic-looking instruments.  Likewise, the oval steering wheel breaks from
convention and offers the driver an unfettered view of the instruments.
Function and comfort are ensured by lightweight carbon-fiber bucket seats.
    The center console houses the Cockpit Data and Management system (COMAND),
which will be standard equipment on the all-new Mercedes S-Class when it
arrives in the U.S. this spring.  From COMAND, the driver can access the
on-board satellite navigation system, as well as controls for the audio and
phone systems.
    While the Mercedes-Benz SLR design study is clearly a one-of-a-kind
concept vehicle, some of its design elements and technology could appear in
future Mercedes production cars.