Car News

Look, Ma, No Wings - 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster

RELATED READING
See all Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2011

In these days of folding metal car roofs, it seems Mercedes-Benz still has a soft spot for soft-tops. The evidence is here, in the 2012 SLS AMG Roadster.

Its hard-top counterpart has gull-wing doors (they flip up rather than out), in tribute to the Mercedes-Benz 300SL coupe of the 1950s, a successful – and singularly beautiful – race and road car. So ditching one of the key design features and replacing them with a three-layer fabric roof is quite a bold step. But Mercedes-Benz tells us that the SLS was designed with both body styles in mind right from the get-go.

And that’s a good thing, because making a convertible out of a coupe often results in a compromised car. A metal roof acts as a structural member; without it, the body tends to flex and cannot provide a foundation firm enough for refined suspension settings. To compensate, car makers will add a load of bracing underneath, pushing up the curb weight in the process.

The SLS AMG Roadster has extra bracing, but AMG – the performance division of Mercedes-Benz – is too clever to fall into the fat trap. This model’s body has piled on only five extra pounds compared with the coupe’s. So it can still hit a maximum speed of 187 mph (electronically limited) without too much exertion. This roadster version could actually be the driver’s choice, since not having huge metal hinges in the roof should lower the car’s center of gravity significantly.

The roof is operated by an electro-hydraulic system that allows it to be opened or closed at speeds up to 31 mph (if this seems like an arbitrary number, it works out to 50 kilometers per hour). Its frame employs magnesium, aluminum and steel, for a balance of lightness and strength. And Mercedes-Benz has already tested it in that marvelously detail-oriented way typically associated with German engineers. This includes a hosepipe test, overnight rain test, going through a car wash, and a trip to Laredo, Texas, because there is some very fine dust in that region.

So far, the SLS has been the only car designed solely as an AMG model (the rest of the AMG range is based on regular Mercedes-Benz vehicles). Although the pictures do not show any three-pointed star badges on what is still a development version, they will be there in all their shiny glory when the car makes its official debut at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show in September. Soon after that, it will go on sale in the United States. For some kind of ballpark figure, the coupe currently starts at $183,000.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Look, Ma, No Wings - 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster - Autotrader