It’s is no big secret that Mercedes-Benz has been working on a convertible version of the SLS Gullwing. In fact, the first unit for North America was sold to our Publisher at the Boca Raton Concours d’ Elegance (it went under the hammer alongside the first R8 GT and a certain Ferrari). The first Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster will land stateside in fall 2011. The SLS AMG Roadster comes with a soft-top convertible mechanism. To cut the top off, Mercedes-Benz had to spend some extra time reinforcing the car’s structure and tweaking its handling. Additional support structures will add to the vehicle’s weight (90 or so pounds) but allow the top to be opened or closed at speed, specifically at speeds up to 31 mph. There is no latch to unlock as the opening/closing process is fully automatic and takes only eleven seconds. The soft top will be available in three colors—black, red and beige—and, surprisingly, won’t eat into the car’s trunk space. Through no fault of Mercedes and despite paying homage to the original 300 SL of the 1950’s, some may not be fond of the new SLS without its trademark gullwing doors. Still, there is no denying that the Roadster is well proportioned. The SLS AMG Roadster features the same long hood, rear-positioned cabin, small rear deck, wide track, and short overhangs that make the SLS Gullwing coupe so appealing.
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Also, like the coupe, the 2012 SLS AMG Roadster features an aluminum space frame, 6.3-liter V-8 developing 563 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque, seven-speed dual clutch transmission, and sports suspension. New for both in 2012 is an optional adaptive suspension. The electronically controlled dampers in the suspension function in one of three modes: “Comfort,” “Sport,” and “Sport plus.”
Like many new exotics, the SLS features an interior inspired by aviation. The dashboard is in the shape of a wing, the air vents are cruciform nozzles reminiscent of jet engines, and the shifter is in the shape of an aircraft’s thrust control. For the 2012 SLS Gullwing and 2012 SLS Roadster, the center console’s control unit can be equipped with a new AMG Performance Media. It not only allows the driver to adjust the optional Adaptive AMG Sport Suspension, but also gain access to numerous metrics such as engine output; 0–60, quarter mile, and lap times; and lateral and linear acceleration. Optional on all new convertibles and standard on the SLS Roadster is Mercedes-Benz’s exclusive Airscarf system, which warms the head and neck areas of the occupants for top-down motoring in cooler climates. A new color, Sepang Brown Metallic, and 10-spoke wheels painted in matte black with a high-sheen rim flange will premiere with the 2012 SLS Roadster and be available on the coupe.