October 2, 2008 Mercedes-Benz has announced a new limited edition version of the SLR McLaren Roadster supercar with the promise of breathtaking power and performance characteristics above that of its stunning predecessor. Improved dynamic suspension tuning and aerodynamics combined with a hand-built, supercharged, 5.5-liter Mercedes-AMG V8 engine that delivers 478 kW/650 hp (up from 460kW) give the new variant a top speed of 335 kmh with acceleration from 0 to 100 kmh in 3.7 seconds and 0-200 kmh 10.6 seconds. Why "722"? The number is a reference to the SLR racing models from the 1950s from which the two-seater cabriolet draws inspiration - Stirling Moss and his co-driver Dennis Jenkinson carried this number when they drove to victory in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR at the classic Mille Miglia long-distance race in 1955.
Like the original SLR McLaren Roadster the new 722 S features a fully recessible fabric soft top and cutting-edge aeroacoustics that make it possible to carry on a conversation at over 200 kmh with the lid down. The soft top opens and closes semi-automatically in around ten seconds and the front section has an integral aluminum cap designed to prevent "ballooning" at high speeds.
The aerodynamic characteristics of the new roadster are derived from the SLR Coupé with an airbrake integrated into the boot lid, an enclosed underbody, a diffusor in the rear bumper and an airsplitter at the front end to provide maximum downforce with small wheel spoilers reducing turbulence at the rear axle. Handling is also enhanced by stiffer spring and shock absorber configurations and the body has been lowered by 10 millimeters at the front and rear.
With the exception of two aluminum frames, the body is completely of carbon-fiber materials (CFRP) with steel-reinforced A-pillars and two fixed rollover bars, resulting in low weight, a high-level of energy absorption, plus a torsional rigidity that provides exceptional safety characteristics and further boosts handling. Further safety elements include adaptive airbags, knee and sidebags, belt tensioners and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
The notable design elements of the 722 S include a crystal antimony grey paint finish, black, grid-like air vents on the bonnet and the front, rear light modules with palladium grey surrounds and distinctive red highlights including painted brake callipers on the 19-inch forged aluminum wheels.
Inside, visual flashpoints are provided by the sports bucket seats upholstered in a combination of semi-aniline leather/Alcantara and complimented by red seat belts plus embossed 722 S lettering on the head restraints. Two-zone automatic climate control, a high-quality BOSE Premium sound system, a multifunction sports steering wheel with shift paddles and a navigation system with an integrated radio and CD player are also standard.
Under the hood, the supercharged 5.5-liter V8 engine is married to a five-speed automatic transmission developed by Mercedes-Benz which allows the driver to choose between two sets of shift characteristics.
The release date for the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster 722 S has been set for January 1, 2009. Production is limited to just 150 vehicles which will be hand-built at the Formula 1 workshops of McLaren in Woking, England.