Design: Purist, athletic, exclusive and breathtaking

Sep 22, 2011
  • Purist design for passionate sportiness
  • Striking front end with features from the 300 SL Roadster
  • Powerful, muscular side aspect
  • Interior inspired by aircraft engineering
Perfect proportions and purist lines for an exciting presence: the design of the SLS AMG Roadster stirs the emotions. Whether with the soft top open or closed, the Roadster exudes passionate sportiness and sheer exclusivity. The new super-sports car reinterprets the breathtaking lines of the iconic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster from the 1950s, and continues the legend of exciting sports cars bearing the Mercedes star.
Memories of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SL are also rekindled by the hallmark wide radiator grille with the large Mercedes star and the wing-shaped cross-fin. The three-dimensional, sculptured front-end with its low-set, arrow-shaped front apron set well into the sides lends the SLS its powerful stance on the road. Six large cooling air intakes and the vertically arranged headlamps set well to the outside with their alluring inner ambience provide a dominant aura, and are also stylistically reminiscent of the 300 SL Roadster. The central bi-xenon low-beam headlamp with its metallic wing section is framed by two LED indicator strips at the top and by the LED daytime running lamps at the bottom.
Sheer dynamism is not only suggested by the almost two-metre long bonnet, the low greenhouse set well to the rear and the short rear end with the extending rear aerofoil, but also by the long wheelbase, wide track and large wheels. The short overhangs characterise the athletic proportions as strongly as the overall engineering concept for this super-sports car, with its low-mounted front-mid engine and dual clutch transmission in a transaxle configuration.
Design influences from aircraft construction
Allusions to aircraft construction come courtesy of the prominent Mercedes star, whose tubular section is reminiscent of the air intake on a jet engine when viewed from the side, as well as the long bonnet: as the eye is drawn forward, so the observer becomes more aware of the curved bonnet contour. The design of the four fins with their Silver Shadow finish adorning the two air outlet grilles on the end of the bonnet creates the same visual impression. These aircraft-style lines also visually accelerate the air that flows past – and make the SLS AMG appear extremely dynamic even while stationary.
The fins on the bonnet are also to be found on the vehicle flanks, and here too the afficionado will rediscover a typical design feature of the 300 SL Roadster. The "6.3" lettering integrated between the fins is a clear reference to the large, naturally aspirated V8 engine. A stylish character line emerges from the side air outlet, combining visual appeal with power in combination with the dramatic effect of the flank surface. Extraordinarily appealing and unmistakable, the only 1261-millimetre high passenger compartment with its high beltlines, flat side windows and steep windscreen is in the nature of an observation post. When closed, the low fabric soft top accentuates the purist overall impression and embodies classic roadster design. When opened, the soft top is deposited behind the seats in a Z-configuration to preserve the harmonious lines. The three soft top colours of black, red and beige are available to suit the choice of nine exterior and six interior colours.
Side view dominated by muscle and shoulder
Viewing the SLS from the side, the eye is drawn to the prominent vehicle shoulder, which stretches from the front to the rear like a taut muscle. Dynamism is also enhanced by exterior mirrors mounted on the beltline. Distinctive 19-inch (front) and 20-inch (rear) light-alloy wheels fill the flared wheel arches, which stand out prominently from the flank. Three different wheel variants all provide a good view of the large, high-performance composite brakes. Seen from above, a prominent, uninterrupted line runs from the muscle to the rear. This styling feature is also picked up on the bonnet, where the eye follows a distinctive contour. On the right, a sporty filler cap of solid metal provides another visual highlight.
Rear view that emphasises width
Dynamism and power are also suggested by the rear view of the SLS AMG Roadster. The gently sloping boot lid creates an impression of width, as do the pronounced shoulder, the closed soft top with its wide glass rear window and the flat rear light clusters. Featuring LED technology and two slim chrome inserts, the horizontally divided light clusters provide interesting perspectives. Wing-shaped LED lighting elements make for a distinctive and striking night design. Unlike in the SLS AMG Coupé, the third brake light is integrated into the boot lid.
Similarly inspired by motor racing are the black diffuser insert, the low, centrally located Formula 1-style LED foglight/reversing light and the two chromed tailpipes of the sports exhaust system. The strikingly tapered rear apron provides an unimpeded view of the wide rear wheels, lending the SLS its self-assured stance on the road. The spoiler integrated in the boot lid is automatically deployed from a speed of 120 km/h to ensure optimum stability at high speeds. As the aerials for radio, navigation and telephone reception are invisibly integrated into the boot lid, they do not disrupt the car's silhouette.
Interior reminiscent of an aircraft cockpit and motor racing functionality
Authentic materials and outstanding precision with respect to material quality and standard of finish: the interior of the SLS AMG Roadster already thrills at first sight. As in the gullwing model, the Roadster cockpit creates associations with an aircraft cockpit. The characteristic styling feature is the dashboard, whose powerful and dramatic wing shape makes for an impression of width. Strikingly integrated into the dashboard are the galvanised air vents with their adjustable, cruciform nozzles and Silver Shadow finish – their shape reminiscent of a jet's engines. The instrument cluster with its LED upshift indicator and two white backlit dial instruments adds another decidedly sporty touch with its metallic Silver Shadow finish. The silver dials have red-lit needles and a 360‑ km/h scale. As a central feature of the cockpit, the COMAND APS multimedia system is integrated between the two centre air vents.
The elongated centre console in matt metal similarly picks up on the design theme of an aircraft cockpit. It is home to the AMG DRIVE UNIT, which is inclined towards the SLS driver and allows him to choose his personal vehicle setup. The E-SELECT shift lever, whose styling recalls the thrust control of a jet, controls the AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission. The solid metal selector lever is lined with high-grade leather bearing an embossed AMG emblem. The attractively integrated control unit for the electric soft top is located in the rear section of the centre console.
Numerous controls are precision-made from solid metal, with a high-sheen Silver Shadow surface. On request the centre console and other interior features such as the door sill panels, interior door trim and seat backrest trim are available in carbon-fibre. Alternatively AMG trim in high-gloss black is available for the centre console.
Authentic cockpit atmosphere in the interior
The concave shape of the interior door panels and the high beltline make for an authentic cockpit atmosphere. Together with the wide centre tunnel extending well to the rear, they reinforce the impression of safety and security. Topstitching and contrasting seams, as well as fine designo leather on the sports seats, create a luxurious impression and accentuate the hand-finished look. All surfaces such as the interior door panels and armrests are softly padded for a very pleasant feel.
Dynamic steering wheel design and six different leather colours
An authentic racing car touch is provided by the AMG Performance steering wheel with a diameter of 365 millimetres. The rim has a flattened lower section and an oval cross-section, plus perforated leather in the ergonomically formed grip area, for outstanding vehicle control. The shift paddles and lower insert are of metal. The unmistakable attention to detail for which Mercedes designers are known is very evident in the tasteful colour combinations in the interior. Six different single-tone designo leather colours are available to meet individual preferences: black, espresso brown, sand, classic red, light brown and porcelain. The sports seats with integrated head restraints and sporty transverse fluting are upholstered in designo leather, with a metal AMG badge in the backrests. Two-tone designo Exclusive leather seats are also available in espresso brown/black, classic red/black, sand/black and porcelain/black. If light brown is chosen as an interior colour, the sports seats are upholstered in natural leather with particularly high-quality woven leather on the centre seat panels.
The A-pillars are lined in anthracite Alcantara, heightening the functional, purist motor sports atmosphere. These surfaces are complemented with the sporty carpeting and floor mats bearing the AMG logo.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, exterior, studio
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, exterior, studio
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster: Attractively integrated into the boot lid, the aerofoil extends at 120 km/h and acts together with the rear diffuser to ensure the necessary downforce at the rear axle.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, exterior