The new 'super sports car', as Mercedes-Benz likes to describe the SLS AMG, is clearly inspired by the one of the most beautiful and iconic cars ever to hit the road, the 1950s 300 SL Gullwing. Evidently, Mercedes did not go for a full retro look but instead used the 300SL as an inspiration to design a supercar that embodies the firm's classic styling traits without looking like a beefed-up SL for example - yes, we're talking about the SLR McLaren.
The design highlight is without doubt the gullwing doors that swing up by 70 degrees while another styling cue that harks back to the 300SL is the wide radiator grille with the large Mercedes-Benz star and the wing-like fin.
The SLS AMG's proportions are overly aggressive with the nearly two-meters or 79-inches long bonnet (!), the low and far back positioned cabin and the stubby tail along with the long wheelbase and wide tracks offering the car a menacing stance.
"It is more than just the exclusive gullwing doors that make the design of the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG so special," said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. "Our aim with this interpretation is to create the classic car of the future and put the most beautiful sports car of the 21st century on the road. Another of our goals is to create a new design icon that, like other Mercedes-Benz models such as the CLS and the SL, will help shape future models of the Mercedes-Benz brand."
We'd like to see the SLS AMG up close before we make up our mind on the exterior, but at least from the pictures, the car's weakest design points appear to be the awkward-looking B-column and the rear-end styling which is somewhat less impressive.
The SLS AMG's interior design and layout is rather simple with some of the switchgear being borrowed from other Mercedes models like the E-Class. The cockpit is however dressed in high quality materials such as nappa leather, metal detailing, and, as an option, real carbon applique with buyers being able to choose from five different leather colors including black, classic red, sand, porcelain and light brown.
Moving on to the technical details, both the chassis and body of the SLS AMG are made of aluminium resulting to a curb weight of 1,620 kilograms (3,571 lbs) which is close to 150 kg (330 lbs) less than the old SLR McLaren. The weight distribution is 47 per cent in the front and 53 per cent in the rear.
At the heart of Merc's supercar is a front/mid mounted 6.3-liter V8 engine derived from other familiar AMG models. The naturally aspirated engine has been reworked with a new intake system, different valve gear and camshafts as well as various other upgrades resulting to an output of 571 hp at 6,800 rpm and a maximum torque of 650Nm (479 lb-ft) at 4,750 rpm.
That power is sent to the back through a newly developed AMG dual-clutch seven-speed sports transmission located at the rear in the transaxle position. The driver has a choice of four different driving programmes: C (Controlled Efficiency), S (Sport), S+ (Sport plus) and M (Manual), as well as a RACE START function.
Even in today's 'green' world, we seriously doubt that any of the potential buyers will care, but for the record, the SLS AMG returns a combined fuel consumption of 13.2lt per 100km that comes to around 17.8 mpg US or 21.4 mpg UK.
Other features include the double wishbone suspension, the rack-and-pinion steering gear, which Mercedes says delivers a "consistently direct steering feel" as well a 3-stage ESP
that gives the driver a choice of the three modes "ESP ON", "ESP SPORT" and "ESP OFF" at the push of a button. The SLS AMG also gets lightweight ceramic brakes and special high-performance sport tires in sizes 265/35 R 19 in the front, and 295/30 R 20 in the rear.