Mercedes-AMGhas officially begun sales of its much anticipated SLS AMG GT3 race car. Given its name, the car is eligible to compete in any FIA GT3 classifications. Well-heeled privateers and interested race teams should expect their Swiss accounts to drop by a mere $511,860, including the 19% VAT fee. If you're wondering, that's some $300,000 more than a base 2011 SLS AMG.
The SLS AMG GT3 is a bona fide race car, stripped of its civility in the name of balance, speed, and cornering prowess, and built and clad in nothing but the finest grade aluminum and carbon fiber. Since June of this year, legendary five-time DTM champ Bernd Schneider has personally tuned the racer and says it "will be very competitive" in the GT3 class. In other words, we're guessing the costly premium will be money well spent.
Hardly anything -- save for the actual form, bare chassis, and vertically opening doors -- is preserved from the street car. Wider, vented carbon fiber bodywork entrenches the aluminum spaceframe. A sculpted diffuser and sealed underbody delicately direct air in the most efficient and profitable manner, while the C-pillar's fast refuel system allows easy access to the 32-gallon carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuel cell. And how about that massive carbon fiber rear wing? It's fully adjustable for supreme multi-track configurability.
AMG's hand-built 6.3-liter V-8 is rumored to make upwards of 600 horsepower in GT3 form, but the FIA will determine final output and curb weight later next spring. Whatever the final output, it will be channeled through a sequential, paddle-actuated six-speed gearbox.
Grip to the 18-inch forged centerlock wheels is organized and distributed via a multi-disk locking differential and traction control system. Adjustable coilovers bolt into the forged double-wishbone suspension. The quicker ratio rack-and-pinion steering promises spot-on steering in any situation. And forget about carbon ceramic brakes. This AMG uses steel brakes to demolish speed.
Settings for traction control and brake bias can be changed by the turn of a switch inside the stark cabin. A padded steel roll cage stiffens the already stout frame, while also providing extra protection. The CFRP, HANS-ready bucket and six-point harness aptly secure the driver during racing.
Mercedes-AMG says it will debut the SLS AMG GT3 later this year during the VLN endurance championship races, where it will battle some of the world's best race cars. Oh, and if you do end up buying one of these bad boys, don't fret if you're a little overwhelmed. The AMG Driving Academy will show you how to drive it right.