Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes-Benz’s highly-anticipated SLS AMG, which takes the iconic 300SL Gullwing to the next generation, is a true gentleman's exotic coupe. Powered by a new variant of AMG’s 6.3-liter V8, the SLS AMG replaces the SLR in Mercedes' high-performance lineup.

The SLS AMG Gullwing is certainly nowhere near an old design, but that didn't stop the German automaker from applying a few updates for the latest model year. Most significant is the new AMG Ride Control sports suspension, which utilizes electronically controlled dampers to allow the driver a choice of three different suspension settings.

"Comfort" mode, as one would expect, is a relatively soft setting for long distance cruising or traveling over bumpy roads. "Sport" tightens up the shock absorbers to cut down on body roll and is billed by AMG as the best balance between responsiveness and comfort. Finally, "Sport Plus" is reportedly optimized to yield the quickest times while bombing around on a race course, should SLS AMG owners be so inclined.

AMG says the optional system is controlled by electromagnetically actuated valves in the shock absorbers control the oil flow between the lower and upper chamber.

Other new options include lightweight AMG 10-spoke forged wheels with matte black finish, red-painted brake calipers and several new exterior and interior colors. The newly available Blind Spot Assist system is a good choice for those who don’t want their limited-visibility SLS AMG to participate in a merger of equals with another car when changing lanes.

Timeless design
Featuring a clearly retro-inspired shape outside, the SLS AMG nonetheless features a number of unique design elements. Nine exclusive paint shades are available, including two matte finishes. LED head and tail lamps will help make sure the SLS AMG is visible at all times.

Inside, the AMG SLS is clearly airplane-inspired in its cockpit design. Nappa leather, real metal trim and optional real carbon fiber help set the interior apart from traditional offerings and Mercedes-Benz says that five interior shades will be on offer to allow for personalization.

The gullwing doors, a direct link to the 300SL, swing up 70 degrees to allow for access to the interior.

The performance highlights start under the long, shapely hood: 6.3-liters of AMG-massaged V8 will pump out 571 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm transmitted to the transaxle-mounted seven-speed SpeedShift dual-clutch transmission.

With this powertrain, the SLS AMG will accelerate to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds before topping out at about 197 mph.

The motor, codenamed M159, is fully restructured when compared to the current M156 currently used in virtually every AMG product. An entirely new intake manifold system, restructured valve gear and camshaft and a dethrottled exhaust system are responsible for the 9 percent performance boost. A dry sump lubrication system also makes an appearance.

Mercedes-Benz claims that the engine is also be capable of averaging about 18 mpg.

Those performance figures wouldn’t be possible without the lightweight aluminum space frame, itself an homage of sorts to the tubular construction of the original 300SL. Weighing under 3,600 lbs. – an impressively svelte number for a big supercar – the SLS also features a low center of gravity to improve handling.

The sophisticated suspension features a 47/53 weight distribution and dual A-arms with track rods at all four wheels – a setup developed on the Formula 1 track. Ceramic composite brakes will make the standard list – and 9.5 x 19 inch front and 11 x 20 inch rear wheels wrapped in SLS AMG-specific tires help put the power to the ground.

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