Thursday, May 5, 2011

SLS Roadster Preview; Look Ma, No Gullwings!

The 2012 SLS Roadster from Mercedes-Benz subsidiary AMG may have lost the distinguishing "gullwing" doors of it's sister car, but it gained a three layer softtop that retracts in an industry-beating 11-seconds and at speeds up to 31-mph.  Developed directly along side the SLS hardtop in order to share development costs and objectives, the vehicles were first created as a digital prototype at the Mercedes Technology Center in Sindelfingen, Germany.  These highly advanced and proprietary digital prototypes are far more than the typical computer models of other manufacturers and are, ostensibly, complete, virtual automobiles that take into account everything from finalized body design, weight distribution, center of gravity, and engine position among countless other technical bits.

The Roadster premieres at the Frankfurt International Auto Show in September of this year and it's street debut is to follow shortly thereafter, but still promised before the end of 2011.  The world will see one of the most "street ready" cars ever produced considering it has already been evaluated and tested on every continent on Earth with convertible tops tested upwards of 20,000 up/down cycles. 

It is claimed that the rigidity is comparable to the Gullwing version simply because the idea of a Roadster was considered from the early stages of SLS development.  This allowed time for thorough strengthening of the chassis and the door sills, much like the original Gullwing of the 1950's had a larger reinforced lower sill which necessitated the use of the innovative doors in the first place.  Additional strengthening struts reside in the dash area extending to the windshield frame from the central tunnel, and another set at the rear between the soft top and the fuel tank.  Eliminating wind noise, too, was a priority and the Roadster has an innovative new flush-fitted glass rear window and acrylic draft stops similar to those in the upcoming SLK.

The Roadster is expected to reach an electronically limited top speed of 197 mph and pump out 536 hp.

What it may lack in the ability to inspire "ooohs and ahhhhs" without fanciful doors, the real point of the Roadster seems to be a focus on what happens inside the cabin, specifically the area where your hands and feet touch the car (ie: the steering wheel and the pedals).  This car was meant for the open road, and lots of it, especially if you live in Southern California or some equally as sun-blessed environ where you can truly drop the top and party like it's the eve of the Zombie Apocalypse.

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