The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 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 SLR creates a distinctive image for itself as a 21st-century Gran Turismo a thrilling synthesis of tradition and innovation.
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.
At the rear of the SLR an adaptive spoiler provides additional downforce. From a speed of 60 mph, it automatically adopts a 10-degree position, increasing the contact pressure at the rear axle. The spoiler also doubles as an airbrake: when the driver brakes heavily, it rises to an angle of 65 degrees, not only ensuring increased aerodynamic drag but also shifting the aerodynamic centre further towards the rear. This lends the SLR excellent stability when braking from high speeds.
The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is the world's first series-produced car to have a front crash structure manufactured entirely from carbon fibres. This lightweight yet extremely rigid material originated in the aeronautical and space industries and has also proven its benefits in today's Formula 1 race cars. The weight advantage of the high-tech material over steel is around 50 percent, and the carbon fibres, on impact, are characterised by four to five times higher energy absorption than steel or aluminium. Mercedes-Benz exploits these qualities by incorporating two 620-millimetre longitudinal members made from carbon fibre in the front structure of the new SLR. These absorb the entire energy of the crash in a defined head-on collision, leaving the passenger cell largely undamaged. It is also made entirely from carbon fibre composite and therefore offers a very safe survival zone in side-on or rear-end collisions too.
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 SLR McLaren, setting new standards in this vehicle class. Mercedes-Benz has introduced new material technology to the manufacture of the brake discs too. They are made from fibre-reinforced ceramic and are characterised by high fade-resistance and a very long life. In collaboration with the electrohydraulic braking system, Sensotronic Brake Control (SMC™), they allow outstanding deceleration figures too, impressively underlining the motor racing heritage of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
In the interests of optimum dynamic handling and high stability on braking, the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren has a front mid-engined design. Its 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 and delivers its maximum torque of 575 pound-feet 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 3.6 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph, it passes the 100 mph mark after 7.9 seconds. The top speed is 207 mph.
Water-type charge-air cooling, dry sump lubrication and four metal catalytic converters are further special features of this powerful engine.
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.
Technology way ahead of its time and an abundance of power – these were the hall-marks of the legendary SLR race cars in which Fangio, Moss, Kling, and other Mercedes drivers achieved spectacular victories in all of the major road races in 1955. The new SLR demonstrates the same characteristics, its groundbreaking technical innovations distinguishing it as the Mercedes-Benz among high-performance sports cars.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition
The new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition displays thoroughbred motor-racing attributes, having been developed in close cooperation with the motorsport specialists at the headquarters of the McLaren Formula-1 team in England. Featuring more than 300 modified components, the super sports car serves up a boost in output, more dynamic chassis tuning, improved aerodynamics, and distinctly sporty interior appointments to thrill even the most demanding of sports-car enthusiasts.
For Mercedes-Benz, the "SLR 722 Edition" was an obvious name for the new model variant as it evokes memories of the unforgettable victory achieved in 1955 by the British motor-racing legend Stirling Moss and his co-pilot Dennis Jenkinson at Mille Miglia the classic Italian endurance race behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz 300 SLR with start number 722 (denoting the car's start time of 7.22 a.m.). Boasting an impressive output of 641 hp, the new SLR McLaren 722 Edition super sports car not only out-performs its historic forefather, it also outstrips the scintillating peak performance of the current SLR model.
At the heart of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition is a 5.5-litre V8 supercharged powerplant assembled by hand at the Mercedes-AMG engine workshops in Affalterbach, Germany, based on the "One man, one engine" principle. Among the high-performance powerplant's major strengths are its extremely spontaneous response to accelerator pedal movements, dynamic torque build-up across the entire engine speed range and an unmistakable V8 sound.
Further modifications were made to influence the interplay of the engine with the gearshift. For each of the individually selectable transmission modes M (Manual) and S (Sport) on the one hand and C (Comfort) on the other there is now a different accelerator pedal characteristic curve which has been optimised in line with the very different operating conditions that apply in each case.
The end result is an extremely impressive set of performance figures, even by high-end super sports car standards: the SLR 722 Edition completes the sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a breathtaking 3.5 seconds (SLR 3.6 seconds), going on to achieve 100 mph in just 7.8 seconds (SLR 7.9 seconds) and 300 km/h in a mere 28.0 seconds (SLR 28.8 seconds). Plus the top speed of 209 mph is even higher than that of the current SLR (207 mph).
One of the main driving forces behind the further improved performance of the SLR 722 Edition is the retuned chassis. Development work at McLaren's Formula-1 headquarters was based on the SLR's proven aluminium chassis set-up. In the first phase of development, various chassis parameters, such as springing and damping, underwent a series of tests on the Formula-1 dynamometer in Woking. Then the Mercedes-Benz and McLaren engineers made further refinements and finalised the new set-up by performing an extensive series of tests on the road and, above all, on the race track. The stiffer spring rates and shock-absorber characteristics of the chassis (body lowered by 10 mm at both the front and rear) are what gives the SLR 722 Edition its increased directional stability and noticeably further enhanced handling dynamics. Body roll on bends has been reduced by over 20 percent, allowing the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition to corner at even greater speeds.
New 19-inch forged-aluminium wheels also improve the handling dynamics of the special-edition model, their unique, palladium grey design highlighting the car's motor-racing heritage. Their low weight, compared to ordinary tires, reduces the unsprung masses, making the SLR 722 Edition even more responsive. Plus the 19-inch wheels allow larger brake discs with a diameter of 390 mm to be fitted on the front axle. Hailing from the Italian manufacturer Brembo, the new braking system combines with the carbon fibre-reinforced ceramic discs to provide a highly impressive deceleration rate which is fully in keeping with the SLR 722 Edition's scintillating all-round performance. Extensive tests were carried out to develop a new ESPฎ control system for this new brake configuration.
Around 100 hours of meticulous work in the wind tunnel also helped boost the performance of the SLR 722 Edition. At higher speeds, lower aerodynamic drag generally means lower downforce. Not so in the case of the SLR 722 Edition though, which has an "airsplitter" at its front end. Consisting of carbon with a clear-coat finish, the distinctively shaped spoiler lip not only enhances aerodynamics, it also increases the downforce on the front axle by 128 percent. Small wheel spoilers, also finished in carbon, reduce air swirl at the rear axle, making for smoother airflow and optimising road feel. If the 13-percent increase in rear-end downforce is also added into the equation, the new SLR 722 Edition provides 122 kg total downforce. In the 35ฐ high-downforce position of the airbrake, the total downforce is increased by another 50 kg. The result: an even more reliable handling and more precise turn-in at high speeds.
In addition, the rear-mounted airbrake optimises directional stability and braking power. When the speed exceeds 75 mph, it rises up at an angle that has been adjusted in line with the dynamic performance of the new model. If the driver hits the brakes hard in an emergency, the airbrake is automatically raised. This modification increases rear-axle downforce within a fraction of a second, thus partially compensating for the dynamic axle load distribution during braking, which has a tendency to press towards the front axle.
A further factor which contributes to the distinctly sports-oriented configuration is the weight of the SLR 722 Edition, which was reduced by around 44 kg. A lighter oil tank and damper bodies made from aluminium, which have the added benefit of improving the vibration response of the unsprung masses, make for less weight. Furthermore, various parts and components have been replaced by carbon, including in the footwell and at the rear wheel arches. Last but not least, optimised panelling and insulating materials also have a positive effect on the vehicle weight. Yet for all these measures, the high levels of comfort, safety and practicality that have become Mercedes hallmarks remain unaffected.
In terms of exterior design, the SLR 722 Edition features discreet sporty touches, thereby satisfying the desires of keen gentleman drivers and affluent sports-car collectors the core target group to the letter. The new-look 19-inch light-alloy wheels afford an uninterrupted view of the red-painted brake callipers and the large brake discs, emphasising the sheer power and performance that underpins every aspect of the new SLR. In addition, individual components in carbon with a clear-coat finish highlight the close ties with Formula 1. Plus the grille-style design of the black-painted air outlets on the bonnet, not to mention the palladium grey-trimmed front- and tail-light clusters, blend in perfectly with the carbon-fibre look. The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition is available with a crystal antimony grey paint finish which creates a vivid impression of depth and produces an extremely intensive-looking surface structure.
Moving inside, the sports bucket seats, upholstered in a combination of semi-aniline leather and Alcantara, offer excellent lateral support, while the colour contrast provided by the distinctive "300-SL-red" stitching throughout the interior, the 722 insignia on the head restraints and the red seat belts is designed to deliver maximum appeal. The attractive material mix comprising semi-aniline leather and Alcantara, which gives the interior its characteristic look and feel, also features prominently on the roof lining and door panels. Frequently used controls, such as the shift lever and handbrake lever, are trimmed in easy-grip, moisture-absorbing suede. The sporty design philosophy that underpins the SLR 722 Edition is also reflected by the widespread use of carbon throughout the interior. This material, straight from the world of Formula 1, lends the centre console an extremely puristic look.
The new-look instrument cluster focuses the driver's attention on the key vehicle data, featuring classic-style dials with a signal-red background. Plus the practicality of the multifunction display is augmented by a sporty touch in the shape of the AMG RACETIMER. Finally the designers paid special attention to the steering wheel as the key link between driver and car: with its combined leather/suede trim, the rim is extremely easy to grip and helps to driver to remain master of the situation when driving at high speed.