CAR's already driven the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 'Gullwing' in the new October 2009 issue out this week – and today we've scooped the new convertible SLS. Funnily enough, that's an SLS without the gullwing doors, made redundant by the canvas roof clearly visible in our new spy photos.
Squint closely at the photos, and you'll make out the addition of door handles to the new supercar. It's the clearest sign yet that the roadster SLS will get conventional doors instead of the coupé's gullwings.
Merc's new SLS AMG roadster: who it's aimed at
The new electric folding roof will give the SLS quite a different vibe, letting wealthy customers work on their tan as they pass all and sundry on the Nurburgring. It's expected to account for a decent chunk of SLS sales, too, once it arrives early in 2011. Prices are tipped to climb to around £160,000.
Expect added weight for the roof mechanism, which may lightly dent performance. Our European editor Georg Kacher, who's driven the Gullwing in the new issue, reports the 6.3-litre V8 sounds fabulous as it produces 571bhp and 479lb ft. It'll scurry to 62mph in just 3.8sec and top 197mph.
The SLS cabrio carries many of the styling features of the hard-top, including the odd-shaped parallelogram exhausts on either side. And although still disguised, the rear lights look very similar too.
So will the SLS convertible be any good?
Kacher said the SLS 'resurrects the greatest and most evocative road car Merc ever produced' and was impressed by its performance, handling and tractability. Will he still think that when the gullwings have flown away, and the SLS goes up against tough convertible competition? With cars like the Lamborghini Gallardo LP640-4 Spyder out there, the SLS will have to be very good indeed.
And there's more SLS news to come. After the convertible, we'll see an electric SLS in 2012 and then a 600bhp farewell Black Series to sign off the SLS family later in its 2014 dotage.