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Review (2/2)

SLS AMG: The New Mercedes-Benz Supercar

Source: Mercedes-Benz | Published: Sat Aug 07, 2010

(continued from the previous page)

One Man, One Engine

Each new AMG engine is hand-assembled by an expert craftsman at Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach, Germany. Mercedes-AMG follows a philosophy of "one man, one engine," which means a single technician - identified by the signature plate affixed to the engine - is responsible for the complete assembly of an AMG high-performance engine from start to finish. With the utmost care, the craftsman installs each and every part - from the crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons to the intake system, wiring harness and oil fill-up. Each new engine is test-run to ensure consistent quality and maximum performance.

Rear-Mounted AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT Transmission

The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG features an all-new AMG SPEEDSHIFT dual-clutch seven-speed transaxle, essentially a manual gearbox with computer-controlled automatic shifting and two clutches that control odd and even gears. Designed for full-power shifting, the new transaxle is incorporates a rear final drive, differential and a mechanical differential lock.

Its rear-mounted transmission and final drive help provide ideal 47-53 front-rear weight distribution - a key factor contributing to the car's outstanding handling. The aluminum transaxle is solidly connected to the engine by a torque tube in which a carbon-fiber driveshaft rotates at engine speed.

Dual-Clutch Seven-Speed Gearbox

The two clutches control power to shafts that hold seven pairs of drive gears. One shaft holds all the odd-numbered gears, and the other shaft has the even-numbered gears. As a result of this design, shifts can be made without interrupting power by electronically applying one clutch exactly when the other is being disengaged. The next gear is always pre-selected electronically while its clutch is disengaged, making it ready for an instant, full-power shift as soon as its clutch is engaged.

Instant Shifts, Computer-Enhanced

Mounted on the center console, a small T-handle serves as an electronic shift lever for the AMG E-DRIVE unit, which also includes a shift mode knob and buttons for choosing ESP and AMG driving modes, starting the engine and raising the rear wing. One touch back on the T-handle engages drive, while a touch forward engages reverse. When the car is stopped, pushing the "P" button engages the park lock, which also happens automatically whenever the engine is turned off.

The rotary knob on the AMG E-DRIVE unit can select the RACE START feature and four drive modes - Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual. AMG shift paddles on the back of the steering wheel control manual shifting. An automatic rev-matching feature makes downshifting the SLS AMG smooth, yet even more satisfying. Rev-matching automatically meters engine speed so that downshifts are load-free - no lunging or jerking, even in power-on turns or heavy braking.

Forged Aluminum Double Wishbone Suspension

Complementing its prodigious power, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG suspension features double wishbones and track rods at all four wheels - an uncompromising technology that has proven itself in racing, right up to Formula One competition.

Unlike strut-type suspensions, the shock absorber in a double-wishbone arrangement does not perform double duty to help locate the wheel, making the suspension stronger and allowing the shock absorber to work independent of any wheel deflection. All eight wishbones and the four steering knuckles are made of forged aluminum, minimizing unsprung weight, which improves suspension and steering response. To minimize body roll during hard cornering, a thick but lightweight tubular stabilizer bar is fitted up front, while the rear suspension comes with a solid, two-piece bar.

Two-Piece AMG Disc Brakes

To balance its high-speed capability, the SLS AMG comes with vented disc brakes that are grooved and perforated all around. Proven on AMG race cars, two-piece (compound) front brake discs "float" on stainless-steel pins connected to aluminum hubs. This two-piece design reduces weight and transfers less of the intense braking heat that other-wise finds its way to wheel bearings. Fixed brake calipers (six-piston up front and four-piston at the rear) grab the discs for a force of 1,109 horsepower under full braking from 155 mph to zero.

An SLS AMG can be ordered with optional ceramic disc brakes, which are identified by their gold calipers with "AMG Carbon Ceramic" logos. Made of a carbon-fiber-reinforced ceramic material, the ceramic discs are much harder than conventional ones. This not only increases service life, but also enhances durability under high heat and extreme loads, for even shorter stopping distances and higher fade resistance under extreme conditions. While they utilize the same two-piece floating layout as the standard SLS AMG disc brakes, the ceramic discs are even larger, and their total braking force is also higher. In addition, the ceramic discs are 40 percent lighter than conventional brakes, further reducing unsprung weight and enhancing suspension and steering response.

Flow-Formed Light-Alloy AMG Wheels

The alloy wheels on the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG use an innovative flow-forming process that compresses and strengthens the area around the rim, allowing for thinner contours and reduced weight. As a result, each SLS wheel is about 2.4 pounds lighter than a conventional alloy wheel, further reducing unsprung weight and, in turn, enhancing suspension and steering response.

In front, the SLS AMG wheels are 9.5 inches wide, 19 inches in diameter, and are shod with 265 / 35 R 19 tires. The rear wheels measure 11.0 x 20 inches, with 295 / 30 R 20 tires that are nearly a foot wide. The SLS AMG tires use an exclusive rubber compound with grip on dry surfaces that's comparable to today's road racing tires, but with none of their disadvantages in the wet and cold.

Hand-Stitched designo Leather Interior

Echoing the gullwing doors, an aviation theme is carried into the interior by a wing-like dash, four turbine-look dash air vents, concave door panels, aviation cockpit gauges and center console. Angled toward the driver, the AMG E-DRIVE unit on the console holds the electronic shift lever -- a "T" handle that recalls a jet's thrust control - and knobs and buttons for operating key drive systems. The dash, seats, door panels and arm rests are upholstered in hand-stitched designo leather. The headliner, roof pillars and rear shelf are finished in Alcantara, while the floor and lower part of the rear wall are covered in short-pile carpeting.

Lending an authentic racing flair to the cockpit, a three-spoke contoured steering wheel is wrapped in perforated nappa leather with a vertical metal double spoke. The 14.4-inch wheel includes metal paddles for manual shifting and a flattened section at the bottom for more knee and leg room. The steering wheel features multi-function rocker buttons that allow drivers to operate audio, phone, voice control and navigation from the steering wheel as well as a versatile main menu in the dash display.

Versatile Dash Displays

Two silver gauges with red needles indicate engine speed and vehicle speed, with smaller displays within the gauges for fuel level and engine oil temperature. Between the gauges, a 4.5-inch screen displays gear selection, driving mode, outside temperature and clock. Above the display is a racing-type shift prompter - a group of LEDs showing ideal shift points that are visible in the driver's peripheral vision.

A User-Friendly COMAND System

A controller on the center console works like a computer mouse to operate a seven-inch color COMAND display at the top of the dash that controls the audio, telephone and navigation systems. A standard six-speaker audio system includes a 100-watt amplifier; a six-disc, in-dash CD / DVD player; and an AM, FM and weatherband tuner that's satellite-radio-ready.

A standard Bluetooth interface allows a phone still in a pocket or handbag to be operated through the audio system, and a six-gigabyte music server enables up to 1,000 music files to be stored in the car. The COMAND system is also equipped with a standard iPod/MP3 interface and an advanced voice control. Other features allow the navigation system to display SIRIUS real-time traffic information and Zagat restaurant ratings.

Optional Bang&Olufsen Audio

An optional surround-sound audio system from the Danish specialist Bang&Olufsen was developed specifically for the SLS AMG. An amplifier with a total of 1,000 watts drives 11 speakers, and its digital sound processor (DSP) provides a choice of surround-sound or high-end studio sound, as well as sound focus positions for the driver, passenger or "central." This system includes two 250-watt subwoofers in the parcel shelf and illuminated 50-watt tweeters in the dash.

Luxurious Racing Seats

Designed to hug occupants but not be overly tight, high-bolstered SLS AMG seats are upholstered in premium designo leather with integral head restraints, an adjustable lumbar feature and power adjustments that are mounted on the bottom cushion. Standard equipment includes three-stage seat heating and memory buttons that can store seat, steering wheel and outside mirror positions for three different people.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG comes with eight airbags - two-stage adaptive front air bags and knee air bags for the driver and passenger, as well as side air bags in the outer seat cushions to protect the chest and arms and, for head protection, window bags that deploy upward from the door sill.

The gullwing SLS AMG is the new flagship of the Mercedes-Benz sports car line, making supercars more accessible to a larger group of discerning influencers and automotive enthusiasts.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications

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