Mercedes reveals SLS AMG Roadster way ahead of Frankfurt

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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After three years of development, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster is nearly ready for its world debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show on September 13. Though the SLS AMG Roadster is undergoing testing in Stuttgart, Mercedes-Benz opted to release key specifications about the new supercar now.

The SLS AMG Roadster is essentially a convertible version of the SLS AMG Coupe that went on sale in 2010, its existence following in the footsteps of the original 1954 through 1957 300SL that started life as a coupe before transformation into the 300SL Roadster in 1957.

While the new SLS AMG Roadster doesn't have the iconic gullwing doors of the Coupe, it still has a distinct, striking design. The AMG Roadster has the same long, hunkered down proportions as its coupe counterpart. In fact, apart from the canvas roof and conventional doors, the SLS AMG Roadster looks identical to the SLS AMG Coupe. The Roadster also creates the same amount of power as the Coupe, a monstrous 563 horsepower to be specific. Mercedes claims that the top speed of the Roadster is 197 miles per hour, or 317 kilometres per hour.

As with any soft top convertible, the lack of a metal roof can severely alter the handling characteristics in comparison to a coupe. In response to this challenge, Mercedes-Benz has made the side skirts of the car more robust in order to aid the driving dynamics and collision performance of the Roadster. Mercedes also added more struts to the cross-member that supports the car's dashboard, while a structure between the soft top and fuel tank is said to stiffen the rear axle. These modifications strengthen the convertible so much that Mercedes says the soft top can be opened and closed at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour. The whole operation is claimed to take just 11 seconds.

In spite of the considerable rigidity that Mercedes-Benz was able to engineer into the new SLS AMG Roadster, an unwanted by-product of such strengthening techniques is added weight, which can impede the handling and fuel economy of a car. In spite of this, Mercedes says that the SLS AMG Roadster's bodyshell weighs just 5 pounds more than the Coupe's, that's 563 pounds (243 kilograms) compared to 561 pounds (241 kilograms).

Tobias Moers, the head of overall development and a member of the Executive Board of MercedesAMG, had the following to say of the new SLS AMG Roadster, "The SLS AMG Roadster is a super-sportscar – just like the Coupe. It goes without saying that AMG is also determined to achieve superior driving dynamics with this convertible variant."

While it is still undergoing testing, the anticipation for the SLS AMG Roadster on September 13th has certainly grown stronger. U.S. sales are expected to begin late in 2011 while Canadian sales are expected to take place at approximately the same time. More details about the new supercar will be released at this year's Frankfurt International Motor Show.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Mercedes-Benz, 2012, SLS AMG Roadster, $99,999+,

Organizations: Mercedes-Benz

Geographic location: Frankfurt

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