Mercedes’ gullwing supercar, the SLS, is set to go on sale next year from around £120,000, making it more expensive than rivals such as the Aston DB9.
The AMG-engineered coupé will be much faster than its rivals, though; it’s capable of reaching 62mph from standstill in 3.8sec, making it quicker than the lighter and more exotic Ferrari F430.
The SLS makes extensive use of lightweight materials such as aluminium (for the entire frame), carbonfibre (for parts such as the propshaft) and magnesium (for the seat frames). It weighs 1620kg — less than the SLR McLaren it nominally replaces.
Much of this technology will be used in the next-generation SL, due in 2012. Mercedes is using the low-volume SLS as a test bed for the much more important SL.
The interior will also influence future Mercedes models. According to the firm, the cabin is influenced by aircraft design, including the World War Two Messerschmitt BF109 fighter.
The manually operated gullwing doors can be opened if the car ends up on its roof; Mercedes has fitted them with explosive bolts that will blow the doors off the car.
We’ll see the production SLS for the first time at the Frankfurt motor show in September. There will also be a convertible model with a fabric roof, called the SLC, which will follow in 2012.