Mercedes SLS AMG (2010): the 21st century Gullwing

Published: 10 September 2009

Just a day after McLaren unveiled its new supercar, Mercedes has revealed the SLS AMG.

The English and German companies produced the unloved SLR together, but the new MP4-12C and SLS are fresh supercar starts for the pair. And although the McLaren is technically impressive, it isn’t a supercar stunner – the SLS emphatically is, with a long, low nose, stubby tail and incredible gullwing doors.

Does the new Mercedes SLS AMG follow the same recipe as the old SLR?

Not at all. The SLR had a carbonfibre chassis, supercharged 5.5-litre V8 and five-speed automatic gearbox. But the SLS has aluminium underpinnings (at 1620kg it’s actually over 100 kilos less than the old SLR 722), a naturally aspirated V8 and an all-new seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box.

The engine itself is a development of the familiar 6.2-litre V8, but reworked with a new intake system, plus different valve gear and camshafts. The V8 has also been dry-sumped, and to cope with the increased power the pistons are now forged items.

All together the front/mid-mounted V8 now produces 563bhp at 6800rpm and 479lb ft at 4750rpm, which means it’s less powerful than the McLaren, but has more torque. That grunt is sent to the back wheels via a new rear-mounted seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, and with a launch control system the SLS will sprint to 62mph in 3.8 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 197mph, and Mercedes is claiming 21.4mpg and a 47:53 front-rear weight distribution.

Talk me through the looks

The ultra-wide front grille, side vents and gullwing doors are all designed to mimic the original Gullwing, while the rear features LED lights and spoiler that pops up above 75mph.

Inside there’s a large transmission tunnel with AMG’s Drive Unit that lets the driver select four modes for the gearbox and three for the ESP system, plus a seven-inch colour screen for the Comand entertainment system.

Bucket seats, forged wheels, uprated suspension, ceramic brakes, plus carbon interior and exterior trim will be on the options list. Prices will be announced in early 2010, and the SLS AMG will go on sale in the UK just in time for summer 2010.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy