The Mercedes-Benz SLS Spreads Winglike Doors Over a Supercar Body

Mercedes's SLS dresses its high technology in a classic design

This article is part of an IEEE Spectrum special report: Top 10 Tech Cars of 2010.

A tried-and-true trick in the auto industry is to resuscitate an old but elegant design while stuffing it with new technology. Daimler has pushed the concept to a whole new level with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. It’s a deliberate evocation of the most stunning design of all time, the 1954 300SL ”Gullwing,” whose doors opened like the wings of a bird (or an insect, if you want to get technical about it). Throw on another winglike structure that pops up at the back, pasting the wheels to the ground at speed and during braking and you’re definitely in supercar territory. Indeed, reports say the SLS AMG will be priced at around 175 000 in Europe, where it’ll be introduced this year, and somewhere north of US $200 000 in the United States, in 2011.

The car’s list of tech features is long: a lightweight aluminum chassis and body; a 6.3-liter V-8 engine generating 420 kilowatts (563 horsepower); a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission; a carbon-fiber driveshaft that rotates at engine speed to power the transmission directly; ceramic composite brakes; and a dry-sump oil system that uses special pumps to scavenge oil, which allows for a smaller oil pan and lets Mercedes give the car a superlow center of gravity. That feature, plus a front-to-rear weight distribution of 48:52, means the 1620-kilogram car handles like a fighter jet.

The ultimate tech feature, though, will come later, in an all-electric iteration pegged to debut sometime between 2011 and 2013. That model will have an electric motor for each wheel, generating a combined 392 kW (525 hp).

This article originally appeared in print as "Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG."

To Probe Further

Check out the rest of the Top 10 Tech Cars of 2010.

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