Oh, baby! Mercedes-McLaren SLR Featured

7:00pm EDT March 2, 2004

 

Five years after unveiling its SLR McLaren concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mercedes-Benz debuted the real thing at this year’s show in January.

The stunning two-seater showcases the experience of Mercedes-Benz and its Formula One partner McLaren in the development and production of high-performance sports cars.

The grand turismo body design takes its styling from the SLR race cars of the 1950s and the McLaren Mercedes Silver Arrows currently running the F1 circuit. The latter influence most notably appears in the arrow-shaped nose encompassing the prominent Mercedes star at the front. The limited-production SLR has gone on sale in Europe, but will not be available here until summer. Mercedes reportedly has a two-year waiting list of 1,000 cars. Based on prices in Europe, you can expect to shell out north of half a million for the privilege of waiting in line.

Powertrain
Under the hood, a supercharged V8 from Mercedes-AMG delivers 600 horsepower and a 0-to-60 acceleration of just under 3.8 seconds. Top speed exceeds 200 mph. The AMG five-speed automatic transmission features three shift modes: comfort, manual and sport. A dry-sump lubrication system — developed for race cars — allows the engine to be mounted lower for better aerodynamics and lower center of gravity.

Exterior
An example of the tech transfer from the racing partnership: a carbon fiber composite body, which Mercedes says provides more rigidity and strength than ever in a production vehicle. It also provides safety: First-ever carbon fiber crash structures help absorb more than four times the crash energy than conventional metals. The gullwing doors pivot forward from the front roof pillars instead of hinging at the roof.

Interior
Inside the SLR you’ll find chronometer-style gauges, individually padded bucket seats and a multifunction steering wheel with F1-type buttons for manual gear selection. The look is aluminum, carbon and specially developed “Silver Arrow” leather. Other standard items include automatic climate control and a Bose sound system. Can’t find the start button? Flip open the thumb cover on the shifter.