Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster (2011) first official pictures

Published: 05 May 2011

This is the Gullwing that isn’t, the new Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster. The new drop-top Benz supercar won’t be officially unveiled until the 2011 Frankfurt motor show in September, but this reveal of a barely disguised car is all part of the big PR tease – the SLS AMG Roadster has already briefly appeared in a Mercedes Superbowl ad.

So what do we know about the new Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster?

This announcement is all about Mercedes AMG’s extensive development of the SLS Roadster, but leaving that aside the shots released give us a great look at the shape of the new convertible supercar from the three-pointed star. After the SLS coupe, the Roadster is only the second model to be developed independently by AMG, Mercedes’ go-faster arm.

Fundamentally the SLS AMG Roadster is the same as the SLS coupe, with a 563bhp V8 mounted just behind the front axle in the long nose, and drive going to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. 

But in the switch from closed- to open-cockpit the famous ‘gullwing’ doors have been replaced by conventionaly hinged items. AMG has also fitted thicker sills, additional supporting struts for the cross member carry the dashboard, plus a strut between the soft top and fuel tank, to beef up the Roadster’s rigidity. The bodyshell of the Roadster weighs a mere 2kg more than that of the coupe.

What about the new convertible roof?

On a stationary rig Mercedes has opened and closed the fabric roof 20,000 times, and it’s also been put through 2500 cycles on the move in all manner of baking hot and icy cold conditions. It’ll open or close in just 11 seconds at speeds up to 31mph, stay snugly in place at the Roadster 197mph top speed, and there’s a pop-up glass wind deflector for when you’re blasting around with the roof down. 

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By Ben Pulman

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