The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is known for its signature gullwing doors. But while they fly away on the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, the rest of what the SLS is famous for is still there, and for those lusting for a drop-top version of Benz's halo car, the tradeoff will be worth it.
JJust like its gullwing sibling, the roadster will receive AMG's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and the 6.3-liter, naturally aspirated V-8 engine rated at 563 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. And while its wings have been clipped, it will still fly just as fast as the coupe -- Mercedes claims a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 197 mph. Other performance figures weren't released, but we predict nearly identical numbers as the gullwing, since additional weight was kept to a minimum. Mercedes says the roadster's curb weight is 3661 pounds -- just 88 pounds more than the gullwing.
The additional weight is attributed to the structural reinforcements needed to compensate for the loss of the fixed roof. The body shell of the convertible SLS receives extra support struts at the windshield frame and around the transmission tunnel, while the rear axle is reinforced by a strut support mount placed between the softtop and fuel tank. Behind the seats, engineers have placed a cross-member that serves dual duty as support for the integrated fixed rollover bars and as housing for the Bang & Olufsen sound system subwoofer. AMG says the roadster's bodyshell weighs 536 pounds, just 5 pounds heavier than the bodyshell of the coupe.
More weight was saved by opting to go with a softtop rather than a heavier retractable hard top like the one found on the SL-Class. Mercedes says the fully automatic top needs just 11 seconds to open and close and can be operated while driving at up to 31 mph. The three-layered fabric top is supported by a strong, yet light frame constructed with magnesium, steel, and aluminum. Engineers were also able to preserve precious trunk space with 6.1 cubic feet of capacity (with the roof either opened or closed) compared to the 6.2 cubic feet offered in the gullwing coupe. Customers can choose from three softtop colors (black, red, and beige), eight interior colors, and nine exterior colors, include the new AMG Sepang brown metallic paint featured in many of the press photos.
Also debuting on the roadster is a pair of toys from Mercedes' performance arm: the AMG Performance Media system and new Adaptive AMG Sport Suspension. The racing-inspired AMG Performance Media displays real-time information of lateral and liner acceleration, 0-60 mph acceleration time, and the temperature of vital engine fluids such as oil, coolant, and transmission. Additionally, the system can record and store lap times whenever owners take their SLS out on the track. The Adaptive AMG Sport suspension allows various damping levels with three modes: comfort, sport, and sport plus. The new suspension system is optional and will also be offered on the coupe in the near future.
Mercedes says the SLS AMG roadster is scheduled to make its international debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show this September. We should see the wingless SLS in U.S. showrooms shortly after.