Detroit 2009: Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss and Concept Blue Zero

Mercedes brought some life to a greatly toned-down auto season Saturday night, unveiling three vehicles in a lavish reception.

The dual themes of the night were "fascination" and "responsibility." Decidedly in the first category was the SLR McLaren Stirling Moss. The limited production, roofless roadster features an all-new carbon fiber body that recalls the 300 SLR. Output from the supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 has been bumped to 650 hp. The interior continues the retro racer theme, and is thus rather utilitarian, although it's swathed in plenty of stitched leather. Only seventy-five loyal AMG customers who have 750,000 Euros ($1 million) to spare will be able to buy one. None will make it Stateside, as the volume did not justify the cost of getting U.S. crash certification.

At the other end of the spectrum was the Concept Blue Zero, Mercedes' take on the electric car. Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the car has an estimated range of 125 miles, can go 0-62 in less than 11 seconds and tops out at 93 mph. Most interesting is the packaging. Much like GM's e-Flex architecture, Mercedes says the Blue Zero can be configured for electric ("E-cell"), plug-in ("E-cell Plus"), and fuel-cell ("F-cell") powertrains. The batteries and motor are sandwiched between the floor and the undercarriage, which Mercedes says creates more interior space while also improving crash safety.

Of course, the real reason we were all brought out on this snowy night was the new E-class, which Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche sought to portray as both fascinating and responsible. As expected, Mercedes emphasized the car's new safety and comfort features (see a full write up here). For now the 3.5-liter V-6 and 5.5-liter V-8 will carry over unchanged from the previous model, but they'll eventually see direct injection. Zetsche also hinted at an E-class hybrid at some point in the future. To read more about the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss, go to our 2009 Detroit auto show index page. All the latest blogs from the Editors of Automobile Magazine can be found HERE. We've got our whole staff wandering the floor at Cobo Hall bringing back live photos and more information about all the new debuts from Detroit. For complete coverage of the 2009 Detroit auto show, click HERE.

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