|Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG|
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Automotive fascination and high tech of the highest order: These are the traits embodied by the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, which is making its world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt on 15 September 2009. The super sports car boasts a purist design, the systematic incorporation of lightweight engineering and superior handling dynamics. At the same time, the SLS delivers the high everyday utility and exemplary safety that typifies Mercedes-Benz, making the new gullwing the ideal synthesis of the strengths of Mercedes-Benz and AMG.
The new super sports car from Mercedes-Benz and AMG dazzles with its unparalleled technology package which includes: an aluminium space frame body with gullwing doors; an AMG 6.3-litre, front-mid V8 engine with a top power of 571 hp, 650 Nm of torque, and dry sump lubrication; seven-speed dual-clutch in a transaxle configuration; a sports chassis with aluminium double-wishbone suspension; and a kerb weight of 1,620 kilograms. It's a combination that guarantees supreme handling dynamics. The car's ideal weight distribution between the front and rear axles (47 to 53 per cent respectively) and its low centre of gravity emphasize the concept's pronounced sports car nature. The gullwing accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds and has a top speed of 197 mph (electronically limited). The fuel consumption of 21.4 mpg (combined) is best-in-class (all figures are provisional).
The distinctive design of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG dazzles with its passionate sportiness and reinterprets the breathtaking design of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, one of the most recognised design icons of the Mercedes-Benz brand. With its purist design, the new SLS AMG reflects the teachings of modern sports car design: The nearly two-metre long-bonnet, the low, far back positioned cabin, and the short rear with the extendable rear spoiler symbolize dynamism, as do the long wheelbase, the wide track, and the large wheels. The proportions are determined by the short overhangs and the design of the super sports car, with a low-slung, front-mid engine mounted well back and a dual-clutch transmission in a transaxle configuration. The stylistic highlight is without a doubt the gullwing doors, which impart the SLS AMG with incomparable charisma and make a unique statement in this vehicle segment.
It is not just the gullwing doors that awaken reminiscences of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The characteristic wide radiator grille with the large Mercedes-Benz star and the wing-like fin are also reminiscent of the face of the legendary sports car. The three-dimensional, sculptured front with the low, v-shaped front skirt with lateral indentations gives the gullwing a powerful stance on the road. The car's dominance is underscored by six large air intakes and the wideset, vertical headlamps with intriguing internals: The central bixenon low-beam headlamps with metallic wing element are framed by two LED indicators above and two LED daytime running lights below.
Drivers who raise the gullwing doors of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and sit down in the sports seats will experience a very special interior. In its conception, the Mercedes-Benz designers took their cue from aircraft construction to create an ambience that immediately evokes associations with plane cockpits. The defining stylistic element is the dashboard, whose powerfully extended wing-like profile creates the impression of great width. The dashboard incorporates "silver shadow" electroplated air vents with adjustable nozzles, which simulate the look of jet engines. The instrument cluster with its shift-up LED display and two white illuminated circular instruments also appears very sporty in the metallic silver shadow look. The silver dials have red pointers and a 225 mph scale. The main feature between the dashboard's two centre air vents is the COMAND multi-media system with its 7-inch screen.
Despite the low seating position typical of sports cars, which means the seats are located only 369 millimetres above the road surface, the wide opening gullwing doors ensure easy entry and exit. The designers made sure that the doors had as large an opening angle as possible, which is why they swing up by 70 degrees. Another consideration that was just as important was that the distance between the opened doors and the road surface is an ample 1.50 metres, while the size of the passage between the opened doors and the upper edge of the side skirts is a generous 1.08 metres. By contrast, the entry height (the distance between the road surface and the upper edge of the side skirts) is a low 45 centimetres. Another important criterion for ensuring an elegant entry and exit is that the opening and closing of the doors requires little effort even when it's very cold, because of two gas-dampers next to the door hinges.
The gullwing doors require less room to open than conventional coupe doors and can be completely opened in standard sized garages. The gullwing doors can be opened from the interior by means of a "silver shadow" opening handle. Thanks to the linkage system in the door's armrest, the door is easy to handle when closing. The buttons for the power windows, the central locking system and the exterior mirror adjustment are also easily accessible in the interior trim. The interior has a spacious feeling, due primarily to the large shoulder room of 1483 millimetres and the wide elbow width of 1606 millimetres. In conjunction with the generous headroom of 990 millimetres and the driver's effective legroom of 1058 millimetres, the deep seating position is also relaxing. The passengers benefit from a relatively steep windscreen that provides a good view.
The SLS is also taking a new approach in its body concept. For the first time ever, Mercedes-Benz and AMG are presenting an automobile, where both chassis and body are made of aluminium. This leads to significant weight savings compared to the traditional steel construction, as shown by the car's kerb weight of just 1,620 kilograms.
The vehicle's all-new body consists of an aluminium space frame, which combines intelligent, lightweight design with the highest strength and thus further boosts the SLS' excellent handling properties. Light aluminium profiles combine the force nodes to create a stable structure. The large, low-lying cross-sections of these aluminium profiles exhibit high resistance torques, thereby ensuring the desired direct transfer of drive, braking and chassis forces. Undesired flexibility is reduced by the structure; the vehicle responds rigidly, directly and as if it was almost free of torsion.
The intelligent aluminium space frame, which has been optimized in terms of weight, is 45 per cent aluminium profiles, 31 per cent aluminium panelling, 20 per cent cast aluminium and four per cent steel. Ultra high-tensile, hot-rolled steel is used in the A-pillars to further improve occupant protection. The body-in-white weight is 241 kilograms - and given that the maximum power is 571 hp, represents a top value in the super sports car segment.
The heart of the new SLS is a high-powered eight-cylinder engine manufactured by Mercedes-AMG. The advanced 6.3-litre V-8 engine, which has an output of 571 hp at 6,800 rpm, makes the gullwing vehicle one of the most powerful sports cars in its segment. In conjunction with the low vehicle weight, this results in a weight-power ratio of 2.84 kg/hp. The naturally aspirated engine provides its maximum torque of 650 Nm at 4,750 rpm. The gullwing vehicle accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 197 mph (all figures are preliminary). The high-torque V8 engine, which is called the M159 within the company, has a displacement of 6,208 cc. It has been completely restructured compared to the basic M156 engine, and it displays the typical characteristics of high-performance racing engines.
The most important measures taken to boost its performance were the development of a completely new intake manifold system, the restructuring of the valve gear and the camshaft, the use of streamlined steel-pipe fan-type exhaust pipes and a dethrottling of the exhaust system. As a result, the designers have achieved significantly improved cylinder charging that boosts performance by almost nine per cent. The eight-cylinder engine reacts nimbly to movements of the accelerator pedal and in general responds extremely well. Thanks to the change to dry sump lubrication, it has been possible to achieve a much lower installation position for the engine. The consequent lowering of the vehicle's centre of gravity enables high transverse acceleration, which results in handling dynamics that drivers love.
The solution that was chosen, a front-mid engine plus transaxle configuration, ensures an ideal weight distribution of 47 per cent in the front and 53 per cent in the rear. Mounting the engine behind the front axle provided optimal conditions for perfect handling dynamics with precise steering behaviour, top class agility, low inertia during sudden changes of direction and outstanding traction. The aim of Mercedes-Benz and AMG - to build a desirable super sports car and combine flawless race circuit performance with the long distance comfort typical of Mercedes-Benz - led to this sophisticated chassis layout. All four wheels are guided on dual A-arms with track rod, a technique that has proven itself in motor racing up to Formula 1 level. In a double wishbone suspension, the wheel location and suspension function are separated from each other, and the spring struts/damper struts are supported on the lower transverse link. With its high shatter strength and directional stability, the double wishbone concept decisively controls the wheel, with minimal springy movements, and gives the driver optimal contact with the road surface even in extreme situations.
The A-arms, steering knuckles and hub carriers at the front and rear axles are made entirely of forged aluminium - which helps to substantially reduce the unsprung masses; and this in turn improves the responsiveness of the suspension. At 2,680 millimetres, the long wheelbase results in not only a stable straight-line stability, but also a low dynamic wheel load shift which significantly reduces the vehicle's tendency to roll during acceleration and deceleration. The wide tread - 1,682 millimetres in the front, and 1,653 millimetres in the rear - ensures a lower dynamic wheel load transfer from the inside wheel to the outside wheel on bends, which gives the tyres more grip. When driving around bends, the big castor angle of 11.5 degrees results in a large increase in the negative camber, in addition to improving the tyres' grip - and lending high stability when braking suddenly in bends.
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