Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is an impressive testament to the competence and experience of Mercedes-Benz and our Formula 1 partner McLaren in the development and production of high-performance sports cars. The two-seater, with its striking swing-wing doors and styling elements borrowed from the Formula 1 Silver Arrows, builds on the legacy of the famous SLR race cars of the 1950s. Equipped with cutting-edge race car technology and ground-breaking new Mercedes developments, designed to ensure a high standard of safety and suitability for day-to-day use, the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren creates a distinctive image for itself as a 21st-century Gran Turismo - a thrilling synthesis of tradition and innovation.

The newly developed V8 supercharged engine delivers an output of 617 hp (460 kW/626 ps) and accelerates the sports car from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds. The top speed is approximately 334 km/h. The body of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, like those of the Mercedes-McLaren Formula 1 race cars, is made from carbon fibre composites - lightweight materials which demonstrate exemplary energy absorption, hence ensuring the highest standard of occupant protection. The SLR is the world's first series-produced car to have a front crash structure manufactured entirely from carbon fibres. Adaptive airbags, newly developed kneebags and sidebags, belt tensioners, high-performance ceramic brake discs and an automatically adaptive airbrake in the boot lid round off the range of safety equipment on board the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, setting new standards in this vehicle class.

In the interests of optimum dynamic handling and high stability on braking, the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren has a front mid-engined design. The high-performance V8 engine, mounted on a robust aluminium frame, is installed at a low level which allows a low centre of gravity for agile handling.

With its 5.5-litre displacement, the supercharged engine develops a peak output of 617 hp (460 kW/626 ps) and delivers its maximum torque of 780 Newtonmetres from 3250 rpm - a figure which remains constant across a broad engine speed range of up to 5000 rpm. This means that the SLR 8-cylinder is among the most powerful engines currently available in a series-produced roadgoing sports car. This high-performance car takes just 3.8 seconds to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h, it passes the 200 km/h mark after 10.6 seconds, and from a standing start it takes just 28.8 seconds to reach 300 km/h. The top speed is 334 km/h.

Water-type charge-air cooling, dry sump lubrication and four metal catalytic converters are further special features of this powerful engine - an engine which already meets stringent EU 4 exhaust gas regulations which are not due to come into force until 2005.

The 5-speed automatic transmission, fitted as standard, is also designed for high performance. It allows the driver to choose between three programs with different shift characteristics. When "Manual" is selected, the five gears can either be shifted using buttons on the steering wheel or using the selector lever's Touchshift function. In this mode the driver can also select between three shift stages - "Sport", "SuperSport" and "Race" - significantly shortening the shift times still further for an even sportier drive.

The body design of the Gran Turismo with the Mercedes star takes classical styling elements from the legendary SLR race cars of the 1950s and blends them masterfully with the sophisticated, avantgarde design language of both the latest Mercedes passenger car models and of the modern-day Silver Arrow race cars which took the McLaren Mercedes team to Formula 1 World Championship glory in 1998 and 1999. The design's concept, in other words, thrillingly spans the divide between past and present, whilst at the same time showing the way forward for the sports car designs of tomorrow.

In order to meet the highest of standards in terms of handling at top speed, directional stability and the cooling air requirements necessary for high-performance cars of this kind, Mercedes-Benz worked with McLaren on developing this model's superlative aerodynamics, ensuring exemplary roadholding plus the on-road safety standards typical of Mercedes. Following extensive wind-tunnel tests, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was given a virtually smooth underbody with a special six-channel diffusor under the rear. Both features are familiar design principles from Formula 1. They ensure that the airflow beneath the vehicle is virtually unimpeded and that negative lift, or downforce, is produced at higher speeds. The distinctive sidepipes on each side of the vehicle are also the result of this high-performance sports car's aerodynamic underbody concept: a conventional exhaust gas system would have disrupted the smooth line of the underbody.

It is the very high levels of practicality and luxury that truly make the interior of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren stand out. Individually padded carbon-frame seats, a multifunction steering wheel with race-car-type buttons for manual gear selection, clearly arranged chronometer-style instruments and high-grade materials define the atmosphere inside the high-performance sports car.

Alongside carbon and aluminium, the Mercedes designers have used "Silver Arrow" leather, specially developed for the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, which is available in the distinctive red of the legendary 1950s SLR race car.

It is above all the side profile of the high-performance sports car that identifies it as a car whose maker has a long and illustrious motor-racing tradition, with large, finned air openings breathing new life into the SLR legend. These "gills" are far more than a mere styling touch, serving now as they did back then to ventilate the engine compartment. The designers of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren have lent further emphasis to this particular function by enlarging the surface of the fins towards the rear of the gills, and by placing a clean-cut line at the end of the fins which then sweeps further backwards to add to the styling of the swing-wing doors.

Inside, every detail of the interior reflects the high-performance character of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. Take your place on board, and you'll feel the thrill of sitting in a thoroughbred sports car. The on-board atmosphere, however, is also one of safety and calm - key requirements where concentrated, fast driving is concerned.

The reason behind this is a straightforward yet very emotional design language. It takes up the fin design and continues it consistently in the interior. Here the typical SLR fins are reflected in the ventilation outlets, the airbags and the instruments. The profiles appear light and delicate, deliberately reducing the cockpit to the bare essentials, in keeping with motor racing philosophy. The design deliberately concentrates on the essential factor: the dynamic driving experience.

The focal point of the interior is undoubtedly the centre console with its high-grade aluminium trim. A visual extension of the distinctively shaped Formula 1 domes on the bonnet, the centre console serves as the transition between exterior and interior, whilst also picking up the powerful lines of the front-end design before they flow backwards over the transmission tunnel to the tail of the SLR. In order not to disrupt this clear-cut look, the radio and navigation system are inconspicuously housed below a cover in the centre console which opens in an elegant arc when pressed lightly. The instrument cluster surround also reinforces the impression of power. The two tubes appear to plunge into the bonnet, forming a visual link with the Gran Turismo's power source. Clearly designed, circular instruments are centrally located in these tubes and perfectly positioned in the driver's field of vision.

Having entered through the wide-opening swing-wing doors, the driver and passenger take their places on light, single-piece carbon fibre seats, the basic design features of which have proven their benefits in the world of motor racing. Thanks to the multi-layer carbon fibre composite structure, they are not only 25 percent lighter than conventional car seats but also offer ergonomic advantages: a set of two upholstery modules, in three different sizes, allows the seat contour to be adapted individually to the anatomy of the driver. Three sets of these side upholstery modules are available, ensuring that the seats can be adapted to the optimum upper body and hip width for the driver, providing made-to-measure lateral support. The individual modules, upholstered in semi-aniline leather, are bolted onto the carbon frame.

The five-speed automatic transmission, developed by Mercedes-Benz and already successfully used in several exceptionally powerful models, is also designed for high performance. It has been specially optimized for very high torque and also offers the driver the option of choosing between different shift characteristics. The transmission transmits the engine power via a finely balanced aluminium and steel powertrain to the differential and the rear axle.

The Speedshift system, developed by Mercedes-AMG for particularly sporty driving, offers even more functions in the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. The driver can decide, for example, whether to leave the shift work to the automatic transmission or to shift gears manually. He or she can also select the shift speed, determining how sporty the gearshifts are. A rotary switch in the centre console offers a choice of three settings: "Manual", "Comfort" and "Sport". The activated programme is indicated in the instrument cluster display by the letters "M", "C" or "S".

Source: Mercedes-Benz press

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren