The partial unveiling of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG gullwing ‘super sports’ car yesterday, one day before the start of the Geneva Motor Show, isn’t just the unveiling of yet another high-performance option for Aston-Porsche-Ferrari buyers.

It also stands for victory – at last – for Daimler’s AMG division over McLaren Cars in its decade-old battle to be the Three Pointed Star’s ‘senior’ high performance division.

Ever since Mercedes and McLaren first began planning the Woking-built SLR, there were always strong signs that the men in charge at AMG, just outside Sturrgart and practically down the road from Merc headquarters, believed it should be they who handled M-B’s most special cars, but a bunch of F1 upstarts hundreds of miles away across the Channel.

McLaren, meanwhile, was inclined to refer to AMG internally as “a hot car business” which rather minimises AMG’s comprehensive and multi-faceted business. The debut of the SLS – an all-aluminium wnd thus more traditional car, which draws heavile on forever-famous ‘50s 300SL Gullwing Mercedes – shows that AMG is the senior partner at last. That fact accounts for at least a little of the great pride showing on the faces of AMG’s officials at their launch yesterday.

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2009