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First Look: Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster

Germans give unexpected sneak peek.

by on Feb.09, 2011

Look closely and you'll see several new Mercedes models, including the SLS Roadster and C-Class Coupe.

Sometimes you have to take a closer look at some of the ads automakers roll out.  Over the years, we’ve seen a number of future products put in cameo appearances behind other, more immediately apparent models – as we belatedly realized with the Super Bowl ad for Mercedes-Benz.

Okay, most folks were focused on the classic cars seeming to come to life or, perhaps, P Diddy.  But the rapper wasn’t the real star.  In the background, for those who bothered to look, was the first production version of the new Mercedes SLS Roadster, the latest incarnation of the German marque’s supercar flagship.

Set to come in north of the roughly $250,000 SLS coupe, the Roadster will share the same 6.2-liter V8, with its twin-clutch gearbox, and most of the other mechanicals.

But, obviously, the convertible will have to forego the signature detail of the SLS Coupe.  Gone are the distinctive gullwing doors, long a Mercedes trademark.  In their place, a pair of conventional portals.

The Mercedes SLS Roadster will opt for a relatively traditional canvas top, also foregoing a foldaway metal roof that would have complicated the vehicle’s design – and added a significant amount of weight.

The Mercedes supercar will get another variant, shortly, in the form of the SLS AMG E-Cell, the battery-powered super-coupe that the German maker revealed, in production form, at the Detroit Auto Show, last month.  Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told that production of that model will be extremely limited, perhaps a hundred or so, at most.

Look for the SLS Coupe to make its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show, later this year.  However, if you go back and check once again, you may see yet another cameo appearance in the Mercedes Super Bowl commercial: the next-generation C-Class Coupe, which will officially debut at the Geneva Motor Show, next month.

First Look: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

Putting the battery car on steroids.

by on Jan.11, 2011

The battery-powered version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar will reach dealers in 2013.

Who said battery cars are for geeks?  Well, rich geeks, perhaps, because it will take a Silicon Valley entrepreneur to afford the battery-powered supercar Mercedes-Benz is formally introducing at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell is not a Nissan Leaf.  Like the conventionally-powered 2-seater, this is a car designed for those who put a premium on performance, but it will also offer the owner some green bragging rights.

“It’s our most exciting way of cutting emissions ever,” proclaimed Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and head of its Mercedes brand during a preview at the North American International Auto Show.  “It’s like climbing out of an F4 Phantom jet and into an X-Wing fighter in Star Wars – except this is not science fiction.”

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Ignoring, for the moment, the neon lime green matte paint the prototype revealed at Cobo Center is visually very much in keeping with the gasoline-powered version of the Mercedes SLS, notably including the supercar’s striking gull-wing doors.  There are only subtle revisions to improve the efficiency of what was already a highly aerodynamic body.


Ferrari Reportedly Readying Hybrid Enzo

Will base top-line supercar on Hy-kers concept from Geneva.

by on Sep.09, 2010

The Ferrari Hy-kers concept will serve as a foundation for the maker's first hybrid supercar.

Ferrari is going green(ish?), the Italian maker reportedly readying a kinetic energy-based hybrid system that will be used in the replacement for its top-line supercar, the Enzo.

The technology will be similar to the gas-electric system the maker’s Formula One team has been experimenting with, while the vehicle itself is expected to bear a strong similarity to the 599 Hy-kers concept car Ferrari brought to the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

Like the rest of the industry, Ferrari is coming under increasing pressure to clean up its emissions, especially in Europe, where tough new CO2 standards are going into effect.  Most of its high-line competitors are exploring their electric options and some, like Mercedes-Benz, are openly embracing the potential advantages of battery power, which can yield enormous torque as soon as a vehicle’s motor starts spinning.  Mercedes is currently field testing a battery-powered version of its new SLS supercar, while rival Audi’s eTron would provide an electric alternative to the R8.

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At the Geneva show, senior Ferrari officials indicated the Hy-kers was more than just a pie-in-the-sky show car.  But Auto Week magazine is now quoting the maker’s CEO Luca di Montezemelo as confirming there will be a battery-electric successor to the Enzo, a limited-edition carbon fiber supercar, of which just 400 were produced between 2002 and 2004.


Bugatti’s 800 HP Battery Car

Will supercar maker bring it to market?

by on Jun.08, 2010

Bugatti is getting charged up over electric propulsion but would it ever put its prototype battery drive system in a production car like the Veyron, now the world's fastest supercar?

Even high-performance automakers are getting charged up about electric propulsion, it seems, drawn to the technology’s potential performance even more than its environmentally-friendly aspects.

With Mercedes-Benz already developing a battery-based version of its SLS sports car, it was only a matter of time until Bugatti would weigh in.  Already boasting the world’s fastest production car, the Volkswagen AG division is working up its own electric supercar, though it’s unclear if it will ever make it to market.

Reportedly using a Continental chassis borrowed from sibling VW subsidiary Bentley, the prototype Bugatti electric reportedly makes an impressive 800 horsepower.  But that not the truly mind-blowing number.

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One of the key advantages of electric propulsion is torque – and especially the fact that it comes on strong the moment the motor starts turning.  So Bugatti’s as yet-unnamed electric reportedly makes a massive 2,200 pound-feet of torque – which hits peak at 0+ RPMs. In other words, maximum torque the instant the car starts moving.

“Absolutely amazing,” a Bugatti driver told Britain’s Auto Express about the vehicle’s acceleration.


Mercedes-Benz Tests Battery Version of SLS

Could hit the streets by 2013.

by on Mar.02, 2010

You'll have a chance to plug in your own Mercedes-Benz SLS supercar by 2013. (The new SLS Formula One Safety Car is shown here.)

The high-performance Mercedes-Benz SLS has barely had a chance to spread its gullwing doors, but the German maker is already beginning to test an environmentally-friendly version of the supercar that could give the gasoline-powered SLS a run for its money.

Mercedes is setting a target date of 2013 for the launch of its SLS Electric, a lithium-ion-powered version of the 2-seat supercar.  The battery model is expected to pump out a reasonably impressive 525 horsepower, but like all electric vehicles, the real story is on the tire-spinning torque side, and there the numbers soar to 649 pound-feet.  Preliminary tests suggest 0 to 60 times of about four seconds.

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The SLS Electric will use four separate motors, one for each wheel.  The approach is more complicated and costly – but has the advantage of creating a highly controllable version of all-wheel-drive.  Among other things, Mercedes engineers will program in torque vectoring, which will allow them to steer the car through a corner by directing power to one or more specific wheels.