With McLaren now hot favourites to win both the driver and constructor World F1 title in 2007, the announcement of the new model Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster takes on new dimensions. The exquisite roadster is built in the same factory as the cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, and combines all the F1 high-tech you can imagine, a 626 bhp AMG kompressor V8 producing an almost obscene 780 newton metres of torque and the long-distance attributes and sophisticated atmosphere of a classic Gran Tourismo car. The most telling F1 gift in constructing the open-top 332 km/h masterpiece is the systematic and intelligent use of high-tech materials for the body and safety technology. As in the Coupé, the bodyshell of the high-performance Roadster is primarily carbon fibre, as are the front-end and rear-end structure, the passenger cell, the swing-wing doors and the bonnet. Compared to steel, the high-tech material represents a weight saving of around 50 per cent, which is why the Electrohydraulic braking system employs massive brake discs made from carbon-fibre reinforced ceramics. There's even an airbrake in the boot lid that extends automatically when you hit the anchors at high speed.
In common with Formula 1 vehicles of today, it too is made of carbon fibre, a material that endows the vehicle with a very high degree of safety as well as extreme torsional stiffness at the same high level as the coupé. In combination with the racing-type chassis this gives rise to outstanding ride characteristics. The maximum speed of the new high-performance sports car, which is powered by an AMG V8 compressor engine delivering 460 kW/626 hp, is 332 km/h and therefore at the same high level as the Coupé.
Although the Roadster offers undiluted open-top driving pleasure in the highest performance class thanks to its fully retractable top, the occupants in no way lose out in terms of comfort or the vehicle's suitability for everyday use. Consequently, the new Roadster opens up a new dimension in refinement for open-top super sports cars.
Like the coupé version, the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster once again unites the legend of the successful SLR racing models from the 1950s with the innovative technology of modern Formula 1 vehicles from the Vodafone-McLaren-Mercedes team. Typical stylistic elements, such as the arrow-shaped tip of the Formula 1 Silver Arrow, establish a visual link with the racing cars. The SLR legend of the 50s lives on stylistically in the distinctive lateral louvers, side pipes behind the front wheels and the wide-opening gullwing doors.
The new Roadster benefits technically from the many years of experience of Mercedes-Benz and its Formula 1 partner McLaren. Apart from two aluminium engine frames, its body is made entirely of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) materials, making the vehicle an exception among high-performance sports cars. Especially for the Roadster, complex carbon-fibre technology has been intelligently further developed for the monocoque chassis. The result is low weight, exemplary energy absorption and, therefore, extremely high occupant safety as well as a degree of torsional stiffness hitherto unattained in open-top vehicles. This leads to outstanding ride characteristics of the kind otherwise found only in closed-top super sports cars.
The exceptional qualities of the Roadster are attributable also to the fully retractable top, which blends harmoniously into the flowing lines of the SLR McLaren. Its newly developed roof material, which has an interesting new look, not only guarantees complete suitability for everyday use in all weathers, but also endows the high-performance sports car with characteristics that are highly unusual in a roadster. For example, the top speed of 332 km/h with the roof up matches the extraordinary figure set by the Coupé. The roof opens and closes semi-automatically in less than ten seconds, thereby combining the desire for convenience with the purist character of the roadster.
To open, the roof merely needs to be disengaged from the windscreen frame and briefly raised, after which it folds away electro-hydraulically. The aluminium bow integrated into the front section of the roof forms a stylish cover for the soft top when it is folded down. A high level of safety is assured by steel-reinforced A-pillars and two fixed rollover bars.
In the wind tunnel, the Roadster has been optimised for high speeds with regard to handling, aero-acoustics and aerodynamics. It likewise employs the aerodynamic concept already known from the coupé version, featuring an airbrake integrated into the access lid and a diffuser in the rear bumper to provide increased downforce on the rear axle.
In order to provide the best possible weight distribution, and therefore perfect handling dynamics and a high level of braking stability, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster was designed as a sports car with a front-mid engine behind the front axle. Thanks to its low installed position, its AMG V8 compressor engine with air-to-water intercooling, three-valve technology, dry sump lubrication and four metal catalytic converters ensures a favourably low centre of gravity. With 460 kW/626 hp and a maximum torque of 780 Nm, the AMG V8 compressor engine, which is coupled to an AMG Speedshift R five-speed automatic transmission, catapults the Roadster from zero to 100 km/h in a mere 3.8 seconds.
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The open-top two-seater is equipped with a suspension that was bred on the race track, an electrohydraulic brake system, as well as high-endurance carbon-fibre/ceramic brake discs which offer optimum braking performance, thermal resistance and durability.
A high standard of safety is ensured by unique carbon-fibre crash structures, steel-reinforced A-pillars and two fixed rollover bars. Other safety features include adaptive airbags, knee and sidebags, seat belt pre-tensioners and a tyre pressure monitoring system. The exclusive standard equipment includes semi-aniline-leather-upholstered carbon-fibre bucket seats which can be individually adapted to the driver and front passenger by means of differently sized seat pads; dual-zone automatic air-conditioning; a high-quality BOSE premium sound system; a multifunction sport steering wheel with gear-change paddles, and a navigation system with integral radio and CD-changer.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLR Roadster, like the Coupé, is produced at McLaren's Formula 1 factory in , in accordance with stringent Mercedes-Benz quality criteria, and will be available from September 2007.