The marriage between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren has been something of a disappointment. Their co-created product, the SLR McLaren, has never met sales expectations, and its marketers have resorted to increasingly gimmicky special models in order to reach their contractually obligated goal of 4000 total units. There's been the convertible, the 722 edition, and most recently the totally topless, essentially windshield-less, and all but pointless SLR Stirling Moss, which is the final special edition before SLR production shuts down forever later this spring.
Mercedes has finally announced its next supercar, which will reach showrooms in 2010. As detailed in the pages of Automobile Magazine more than 2 years ago, the new ultimate sports machine, the SLS AMG, is a modern-day take on the classic Gullwing of the 1950s. In contrast to the SLR, McLaren is not a part of the project, which is instead being engineered entirely by Mercedes' long-time in-house tuner, AMG.
With the SLS, AMG for the first time ever is responsible for the development of an entire vehicle, and the new Gullwing is an ambitious, ground-up effort. The car uses an aluminum body draped over an aluminum spaceframe chassis, which is a first for Mercedes-Benz. The extensive use of lightweight metal helps it reach a target curb weight of 3571 pounds. And, of course, the two-seater will use the characteristic gullwing doors, made famous by the Mercedes 300SL more than fifty years ago.
The new car uses the familiar 6.2-liter AMG V-8, set back behind the front axle. Here it will produce 563 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 38 hp and 15 pound-feet compared to the current V-8. AMG claims that the handbuilt engines have more than 120 new parts, largely in the intake and exhaust system, the dry sump lubrication system, and the crank mechanism. The engine is also lighter (only 454 lbs), due in part to the use of aluminum instead of steel for the crankcase and the engine bolts, forged rather than cast pistons, and a magnesium intake manifold. The dry sump lubrication system uses a remote reservoir, eliminating the oil pan and allowing for a lower profile.
The engine's power is transferred to a rear-mounted, 7-speed dual clutch transaxle via a carbon-fiber driveshaft enclosed within an aluminum torque tube. The use of a rear transaxle helps the car achieve a 48/52 front/rear weight distribution.