Sneak Peek: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster

BY Burnpavement

With another six months to go before its September launch at the International Motor Show (IAA), this slightly disguised super roadster has all the time to complete rigorous tests.

Unlike many cars which undergo extensive modifications to create a roadster variant, Mercedes-Benz had already taken into consideration a roadster's design during the planning stage for the SLS AMG. Despite that, the engineers have paid attention to chassis rigidity, driving dynamics, the soft top and ride quality.

The sides of the roadster are robustly built, not primarily for crash protection, but also to enhance the driving dynamics. Together with a beefed up cross-member with additional supporting struts at the windscreen frame, centre tunnel and between the soft top and the fuel tank, this makes the car very rigid.

The extra rigidity also allows the soft top to be opened or closed while on the move at up to 50 km/h. Overall, the only disadvantage the roadster has is an additional two kilograms of weight added to it's bodyshell compared to the coupe version.

Due to the omission of a solid roof, a reinforcing cross-member which supports the fixed rollover protection system, is installed behind the seats. The three-layered fabric soft top of the SLS AMG Roadster, which is deposited behind the seats in a Z-formation to save space, is designed for a maximum speed of 317 km/h. Roof down, a new push-on glass draught stopper and the panelling in the interior helps to keep roof down motoring an enjoyable experience.

Before we'll get to see this car rolling on our roads, that roof will be tested for water tightness, closing cycles at a standstill and on the move, be in great heat, icy cold, high humidity or dry desert winds. That car itself will be tested on a variety of different roads on the durability of the chassis and suspension components, the entire bodyshell and the integral subframe on which the front axle, steering and engine are mounted.

More tests are on the way for this roadster's power train, chassis and suspension, with 10,000 km to be clocked on the Nürburgring circuit and another 10,000 km in city traffic. The car will also be fully loaded and subject to acceleration and braking manoeuvres to test the cooling, fuel-delivery and braking systems.

Holger Strahl, Development Project Manager, "In this field it is not possible to simulate everything with CAD, and it becomes a matter of trying out, driving, testing and improving. The solution finally approved must also be suitable for series production, of course. Our specialist departments and the overall development team work together very closely in their common search for the perfect solution." He also adds, "There is no such thing as the second-best alternative for AMG."