563bhp coupe's details laid bare ahead of autumn debut
2 March 2009

This is the Mercedes-Benz SLS, the car that will bring the legendary 300SL ‘Gullwing’ back to life after a 55-year absence.

The 563bhp coupe, due on sale in the UK in 2010 with a price tag of around £150k, spearheads an ambitious push by Mercedes’ AMG performance division.

The company plans to use the car as the springboard for the introduction of further models; the SLS is also rumoured to set the tone for the next-gen SL, due in 2012.

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Read Steve Cropley's blog on the Mercedes SLS

Mercedes has yet to reveal the SLS's final shape - these official images show it wearing a light disguise - but Autocar can reveal full technical details on the car.

Despite substantial bracing required for the gullwing design, the SLS’s kerb weight is said to be just 1620kg, 130kg below that of the McLaren-Mercedes SLR. The SLS is 4640mm long, 1939mm wide, and 1255mm high, giving it almost identical proportions to the SLR.

The floorpan and inner body structure of the SLS are all fashioned from a combination of aluminium extrusions, castings and sheet panels. The only steel element is a brace running within the windscreen fame.

At the heart of the new car is a heavily reworked version of AMG’s 6.2-litre V8 engine; 120 components have been replaced or altered. Power peaks at 563bhp, while torque extends to 479lb ft at 4750rpm (402lb ft of it at 2500rpm) and is fed through a limited-slip diff to the rear wheels. The car also gets the three-stage ESP set-up from the SL65 AMG Black Series.

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AMG is keen to emphasise the work that's been put into the development of the SLS. "We've pulled out all the stops," said AMG boss volker Mornhinweg. "There are no compromises."

The SLS gets a classic transaxle layout; its new seven-speed double-clutch gearbox nestles within the rear axle assembly to provide the new two-seater with 48/52 front/rear weight distribution.

Mercedes claims a 0-62mph time of 3.8sec and 0-124mph in less than 12sec, along with a top speed of 196mph. Combined fuel consumption is 21.7mpg.

Inside, the SLS provides seating for two, with the seats set well back within the car’s lengthy 2680mm wheelbase.

The SLS will be part-built by Magna Steyr, with final assembly taking place at Mercedes' Sindelfingen plant.

Designers are also said to be hard at work on a fabric hood version, expected to be badged SLC and arrive in 2012.

Mercedes plans to give the SLS supercar its debut at the Frankfurt motor show later this year.

Greg Kable

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