Here’s a follow-up to last week’s round of Mercedes Gullwing/SLC spy shots – even more scoop photos of Merc’s new supercar, baring both its gullwing doors for the first time.
Our man with the long lens has caught this prototype out on test during a lunch stop when the engineers carelessly left both doors open. They’re the most obvious link back to one of the most famous Mercedes of all time, the feted 1950s original with butterfly doors.
It’s the first time we’ve seen the Gullwing in action as a prototype; until now we’ve scooped the engineering mule based on a cut ‘n’ shut Dodge Viper body. The finished item will mix retro styling cues – side gills, those doors – with modern Merc’s stylised wheel arches and high-tech headlamps.
So the new SLC is a tribute act! When will we see it perform?
The new model will be quite different in focus to the original SL. Codenamed C197, the coupe scooped here will be shown formally at the 2010 Geneva motor show (with a concept expected in autumn 2009) while a canvas-roofed roadster, tagged R197, will be unveiled in 2011.
As previously reported by CAR Online, we’ve seen some pretty revealing documentation on the Gullwing, right down to its exact dimensions: it’ll stretch the tape measure to 4650mm long, 1950mm wide and 1250mm high – all wrapped around a 2700mm wheelbase.
And, intriguingly, the Gullwing will also be the first road car to be badged exclusively AMG – with not a Merc star badge in sight, we hear.
Click ‘Next’ to read more of CAR’s scoop on the new AMG/Mercedes Gullwing SLC
Sounds like Merc’s hopped out of bed with McLaren, and into bed with AMG!
You’ve got it. The SLR project bumbles along – we’ve also scooped an SLR speedster designed to pep up sales – but it’s no secret that the Anglo-German co-operation hasn’t been a massive success.
Time, then, for Mercedes to work more closely with its inhouse performance partner. AMG and Mercedes between them are pitching the 21st century Gullwing at a much more affordable slice of the market; where today’s SLR costs a third of a million quid, the newcomer will come in at a more modest €150,000 (£120,000).
Will the Gullwing be a purebred sports car?
Indications are that it will be simpler than the SLR. Out goes the Macca’s expensive carbonfibre tub and in comes a new advanced aluminium spaceframe system, that’s said to trim weight back to 1650kg.
That’s hardly a featherweight spec, but the Gullwing will be lighter than the composite SLR – and a whopping 235kg less than an SL55.
There’s an eight-speed transaxle for a 48:52 weight distribution, and its job is to tame the thrust from AMG’s sledgehammer 6.3-litre V8. Needless to say, performance will be devastating…
Click ‘Next’ to read more technical spec on the new AMG/Mercedes Gullwing SLC
So how powerful are we talking?
It’s an AMG, so no prizes for guessing that the outputs will be rather dizzy-making: the naturally aspirated V8 will crank out 571bp and 479lb ft of twist. We’ve heard it out on test and can confirm that it burbles with the best of them.
Unsurprisingly, the engineers are talking of a 197mph top speed and a 0-60mph in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 3.8sec. These are provisional targets, which are likely to be firmed up as approach the 2010 launch date.
But what about those doors?
Ah yes, the fancy gullwing doors. As these first photos reveal, they are indeed roof-mounted in a nod to the original 300 SL. The added cost and complexity of doing this speaks volumes about the car’s intent – they are a marketing flourish designed to woo buyers in much the same way as a Mini Clubman‘s weird doors are a beguiling gimmick.
Merc types point out that the doors will ease access, as well as looking cool, and our insiders say that the new car even has a decent boot capacity, at 200 litres for the coupe and 175 for the roadster.
For a full version of this story, buy the new September 2008 issue of CAR Magazine, with a scoop on the new Gullwing by Georg Kacher. Click here for a sampler of the September issue