Mercedes’ new Gullwing: the inside story

Published: 09 May 2008

CAR Online has obtained the best info yet on Mercedes’ new AMG ‘Gullwing’ supercar. Depicted in our artist’s impression, the super coupe is codenamed C197 and will make its debut at the 2010 Geneva motor show; a roadster tagged R197 follows a year later.

The new two-seater will be badged an AMG, not as a Mercedes (our artist’s impression still displays the Merc star). It’s thus the first standalone product of the go-faster department – and it probably won’t be the last.

The coupe and roadster will cost around the same as a well-equipped Porsche 911 Turbo – the target is €150,000 (£105,000) – and in size they are closer to the SLR than the SL.

How big’s the new Gullwing, then?

CAR Online has seen documents spelling out the pair’s dimensions:

• Length 4650mm
• Width 1950mm
• Height 1250mm
• Wheelbase 2700mm
• Luggage capacity 200 litres (coupe), 175 litres (roadster)

That’s quite a big car, then, but it will, intriguingly, be even lighter than the SLR. The target weight for the engineers is 1650kg – 45 kilos less than an SLR and 235kg less than an SL55.

How do they do it? By introducing a brand-new advanced aluminium spaceframe technology which is allegedly even more rigid than that carbon fibre tub designed in Woking.

Click ‘Next’ for the full tech lowdown on the new Gullwing

AMG Gullwing’s tech details

Perhaps even more remarkable than the Gullwing’s breakthrough body architecture is the transaxle chassis, which achieves a 48:52 percent front-to-rear weight distribution. Featuring a double-wishbone suspension designed from scratch, the first proper sports car from Stuttgart for decades has a fixed spring/damper calibration and a fixed steering ratio.

There are no gimmicks here. Perhaps the C63 did actually mark a turning point for AMG…

And what can we expect in the looks department?

The design is a mix of retro and modern: there are large, roof-hinged gullwing doors, almost upright bi-xenon headlamps, a classic SL grille, a tapered plan view, LED tail lamps, a motorised rear spoiler and a pair of downforce-producing front and rear aprons. The wheels are 19-inch in the front and 20-inch in the back.

It’s not the most aerodynamic of shapes, apparently, our engineering sources claiming a drag coefficient of 0.35.

The electrical architecture is shared with the next E-class; six airbags will be standard in all markets.

This car will be – for Mercedes – a relatively niche player, with sales of just 6000 of each bodystyle and a production run scheduled to stop in 2013, the year after the next-generation SL arrives.

Click ‘Next’ for the engine and performance details of the new Gullwing

An AMG supercar… they don’t do slow, do they?

Too right. As the pinnacle of AMG’s expertise, the C/R197 is going to be warp-speed fast. True to the AMG moniker, the engine is of course a version of the high-revving 6.3-litre V8 mated to the new Sportshift box.

The final numbers have yet to be confirmed, but conservative estimates suggest 550bhp and 445lb ft of twist action. Okay, so on paper the Gullwing is less potent than the Black Series SL, but that light weight means it should out-accelerate it on the road.

Early data indicates 3.8sec for the sprint from 0-62mph, a top speed of 185mph and an average consumption of 14litres/100km (20.1mpg). The 911 Turbo may be a little more economical and it may have better traction thanks to 4WD. But it won’t be faster than the AMG hotshot.

And will the Gullwing brake as fast as it goes?

You bet. AMG is ushering in its new composite brake system, which is said to be lighter, stronger and notably less fade-prone than a conventional set-up.

How much stronger? According to an engineer, the stopping distance from 100kph/62mph to zero is a time-warp 34 metres. We hope the seatbelts are usefully strong.

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