The SLS AMG roadster is nearing its official unveiling date of autumn 2011 and Mercedes is looking to further whet our appetites with the release of more images and info on the AMG-developed droptop supercar. Ditching the gull-wing doors and roof in favor of conventional doors and a soft top has required Mercedes to stiffen the body, resulting in the Roadster being 40 kg (88 lbs) heavier than the coupe ... but it can still go from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 317 km/h (197 mph).
The open-top SLS AMG sports the same 6.3-liter V8 engine as its gull-wing counterpart with a peak output of 420 kW (571 hp) at 6,800 rpm and maximum torque of 650 Nm at 4,750 rpm.
The Roadster's three-layered fabric soft top, which will be available in black, red or beige, can be opened and closed at speeds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph) with the fully automatic process taking just 11 seconds. Mercedes says the flush, gap-free transition between the outer roof skin and the bonded rear window of heated single layer safety glass helps keep wind noise to a minimum. Deposited behind the seats in a folded Z-configuration, the capacity of the boot is 173 liters with the roof either open or closed, which is just short of the Coupe's 176 liter boot capacity.
In an effort to achieve the same driving dynamics as the Coupe despite the lack of a fixed roof, Mercedes has included a number of features designed to stiffen the Roadster's bodyshell. These include side skirts with greater wall thicknesses and more chambers as well as additional struts to support the dashboard cross-member against the windscreen frame and center tunnel, and a curved strut between the soft top and the tank to reinforce the rear axle. There is also the addition of a reinforcing cross-member behind the seats to support the fixed roll-over protection system.
Mercedes says these modifications help prevent vibrations and means there is no need for the additional vibration dampers that often add to the weight of open-top sports cars. At 243 kg (535.7 lb), the Roadster's weight-optimized aluminum spaceframe is only two kilograms (4.4 lb) heavier than the Coupe model.
The Roadster also sees a new AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension available as an option. With electronically controlled damping, the system allows the driver to modify the damping characteristics of the vehicles at the press of a button using the AMG DRIVE UNIT to choose between three suspension modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Mercedes will also be making the new suspension system available as an option on the Coupe in the future.
There is also a new motorsport-inspired, Android-based AMG Performance Medea multimedia system that displays telemetric data, such as lateral and linear acceleration, various engine data and lap times on a racetrack. The system also provides high-speed mobile internet access so the driver and passenger can surf the web when the car is stationary. The system will also be installed on other AMG high-performance cars in the future.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS Roadster, which was designed in parallel with the Coupe, is the second of at least four variants of the SLS AMG with an electric-powered E-Cell and Black Series versions also in the works. Orders for the Roadster will be taken from June 1, 2011, ahead of its market launch later this year at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. It will cost 195,160 euro (approx. US$278,960) including 19% VAT.