AMG has released a full portfolio of images for the upcoming SLS AMG Roadster, giving us our first full view of the drop-top V8 sports car ahead of its debut in autumn 2011.
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster: the lowdown (top-down)
Off come the SLS gullwing doors, away goes the roof structure and on goes a set of conventionally hinged doors to match the convertible soft-top. It's a power-operated three-layer cloth roof with heated glass rear window, capable of transitioning from 'English summer... ' closed to 'it's stopped raining!' open in 11 seconds. The roof folds in a z-shape to rest behind the seats and above the boot space, which at 173 litres only lsoes 3 litres to the SLS coupe, and performs its quick-change act at speeds up to 31mph. You can have your SLS AMG Roadster soft-top in either black, red or beige depending on which of the nine standard exterior and eight interior colours you choose.
Inside it's largely the same interior from the SLS, with lower sills and new armrest and door card design to match the conventional doors. Airscarf headrest climate control is optional, but fixed roll hoops, eight airbags and a slot-in plexiglass air deflector are standard with the SLS AMG Roadster. Also on the interior options list are Bang and Olufsen BeoSound AMG hi-fi, and AMG Performance Media: a timing and telemetry system which includes mobile internet access.
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster: chassis and dynamics
Removing the roof from the SLS coupe has required additional strengthening of the aluminium spaceframe structure. Extra bracing has been installed behind the dashboard, in the side sills and behind the cabin, along with strengthened A-pillars. The end result is that the Roadster tips the scales at 1660kg, 40kgs more than the coupe. Comparing the SLS Roadster with other front-engined V8 two-seaters, an aluminium-bodied Aston Martin V8 Vantage S Roadster has a 1690kg kerb weight, whilst the composite-bodied Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport convertible is a relatively svelte 1492kg.
The SLS AMG Roadster comes standard with fixed-rate damping, but AMG Ride Control three-stage adaptvie damping is on the options list. New with the roadster, it offers Comfort, Sport and Sport + suspension settings, and will be offered on the SLS coupe after the Roadster is launched.
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster: power and performance
The SLS AMG Roadster retains the 6.2-litre AMG engine of the coupe, matched with the seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission, which retains the transaxle location and carbonfibre torque tube for 47:53 front:rear weight distribution. The V8 puts out 563bhp at 6800rpm, and 479 lb ft of torque at 4750rpm. Mercedes quotes a 3.8sec 0-62mph time, and a 197mph top speed for the SLS AMG Roadster.
With those kind of stats you can guess the fuel economy isn't going to silence the Hollywood Prius contingent - 21.4mpg combined, and 308g/km of CO2, with a dynamic energy recovery system to reduce alternator load on the engine but no automatic stop-start or cylinder-deactivation function. Best practice the whole-life energy consumption and questionable cleanliness of hybrid tech mantras, or buy some carbon offset credits to salve your conscience.
When can I buy the Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster?
If you've been tempted by AMG's brawny two-seater but didn't like the gullwing doors, then salvation arrives on Mercedes dealer forecourts in November 2011. Pricing for the UK market has yet to be announced, but an SLS coupe currently starts at £168,395 and the European list price for the Roadster will be €195,160 (£169,208) including VAT. Expect a premium for the soft-top SLS when it arrives in the UK, just in time for winter. Or Christmas, if you're feeling generous.