The perfect proportions are particularly memorable: a long bonnet, the greenhouse positioned well to the rear and a short rear end. Plus the automatically extending rear aerofoil, long wheelbase, wide track and short overhangs – in short, the open-top SLS AMG likewise exudes effortless dynamism and an authentic charisma. The pronounced shoulder sections are reminiscent of tensed muscles, and suggest sheer power in combination with the large wheels in size 265/35 ZR 19 (front) and 295/30 ZR 20 (rear). The attractive metallic paint finish AMG Sepang brown and weight-optimised forged wheels in a 10-spoke design, painted in matt black with a high-sheen rim flange, are available as new optional extras.
The interior continues the breathtaking design idiom of the exterior, and awakens associations with an aircraft cockpit: prominent stylistic features include the dashboard in the shape of a wing section and the air vents with adjustable, cruciform nozzles reminiscent of jet engines. The extended centre console of matt, solid metal and the new E-SELECT lever in the shape of an aircraft’s thrust control are also design features adopted from the world of aviation. Another discreet, fine detail is the embossed AMG emblem on the leather-lined selector lever.
Fully automatic, weight-optimised soft top
The sensual experience in the SLS AMG Roadster is enhanced further when the soft top is open, and the powerful, naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engine with 420 kW (571 hp) and 650 newton metres of torque asserts itself and makes the heart beat faster with its typical AMG eight-cylinder sound. The fabric soft top can be opened and closed while on the move at up to 50 km/h; the fully automatic opening/closing process takes only eleven seconds. The driver only needs to operate the roof control unit conveniently integrated at the front of the centre armrest. When open, the soft top is space-savingly deposited behind the seats in a folded Z-configuration. Three soft top colours – black, red and beige – are available to suit the nine exterior and eight interior colours. The three-layered fabric soft top is a weight-optimised magnesium/steel/ aluminium construction, and contributes greatly to the car’s low centre of gravity. The soft top has a seamlessly bonded rear window of heated single-layer safety glass. The flush, gap-free transition between the outer roof skin and the rear window keeps wind noise at a low level. A continuous, flexible water pocket running under the soft top catches rainwater and directs it to the underbody via two apertures on each side. The boot capacity is 173 litres with the roof either open or closed, and therefore roughly equal to that of the SLS AMG Coupé (176 litres).
The SLS AMG Roadster has the same, muscular engine as the gull-wing model. The 6.3-litre V8 with a peak output of 420 kW (571 hp) at 6800 rpm makes the open-top SLS one of the most powerful sports cars in its segment. Its power-to-weight ratio is 2.9 kg/hp. This naturally aspirated engine generates its maximum torque of 650 newton metres at 4750 rpm. The open-top SLS AMG accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds, and the top speed is 317 km/h (electronically limited) – which means that the Roadster has a performance comparable to the gull-wing variant.
The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine delivers its abundant power to the rear axle via an ultra-light carbon-fibre driveshaft – similar to the setup used in the DTM C‑Class racing touring car. The double-declutch transmission is mounted at the rear (transaxle principle), and connected to the engine housing via a torque tube. A carbon-fibre shaft rotates at engine speed in the torque tube. The advantages of this sophisticated solution lie in the rigid link between the engine and transmission and, in turn, the optimum support for the forces and torque generated. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission boasts fast gear changes with no loss of tractive force – in as little as 100 milliseconds. The driver has a choice of four different driving modes: “C” (Controlled Efficiency), “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport plus) or “M” (Manual). In the Sport, Sport plus and Manual modes the automatic double-declutching function is active; all the modes can be selected conveniently via the rotary control in the AMG DRIVE UNIT. The RACE START function provides optimum traction — as does the mechanical differential lock, which is integrated into the compact transmission housing.
New AMG sports suspension on request
The new AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension with electronically controlled damping is available as an attractive optional alternative to the AMG sports suspension. It enables the damping characteristics to be modified at the touch of a button. Using a button in the AMG DRIVE UNIT, the driver of the SLS AMG Roadster is therefore able to choose his own suspension setup. Three modes are available: “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport plus”. The current mode is shown in the instrument cluster. “Comfort” delivers a sensitive response with soft damping characteristics, while in “Sport” mode the shock absorbers have a much stiffer response depending on the driving situation. This not leads to better road contact, but also effectively suppresses body roll and pitching. “Sport plus” is ideal for challenging laps on a racetrack: in addition to the higher damping force, this mode comes with specific control algorithms that have been tailor-made for a decidedly sporty driving style on level road surfaces. The new, variable suspension will also be optionally available for the SLS AMG Coupé in future.
AMG composite braking system available as an option
The AMG high-performance braking system with composite brake discs at the front ensures extremely short stopping distances even under enormous loads. From now on, red-painted brake callipers all-round are available on request. The newly developed, optional ceramic composite brakes with even larger brake discs guarantee even better braking performance. The ceramic brake discs perform reliably at even higher operating temperatures thanks to their greater hardness, all combined with an impressive weight reduction of around 40 percent. Reducing the unsprung masses has further improved both comfort and grip, and the reduced rotating masses at the front axle ensure a more direct steering response.
Market launch in autumn 2011
The SLS AMG Roadster was designed and developed in parallel with the Coupé under the autonomous aegis of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. The open-top super sports car will be produced at the largest Mercedes-Benz production plant in Sindelfingen. The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine comes directly from the AMG engine workshop in Affalterbach, where it is hand-assembled according to the traditional “One man, one engine” philosophy. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster can be ordered from 1 June 2011, and its market launch commences in autumn 2011.