The Mercedes SLS, an homage to the 1955 gullwing classic 300 SL, was built from the ground up by AMG, Mercedes sports performance division, and released as a 2011 model. It’s a demonstrably special vehicle as I found out during some spirited driving among the mansions of Newport, R.I., last May.
According to Mercedes, “Three Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3s will be at the starting line for the 24-hour race in Dubai (UAE) on Jan. 15. This first test event in 2011 also marks the completion of the development program for the racing version of the gullwing model. The three cars are being entered by the customer teams Black Falcon and Heico Motorsport. The 24-hour race in Dubai will serve to accumulate test [miles] and fine-tune the SLS AMG GT3 before deliveries begin at the end of February 2011.”
Developed to comply with the GT3 specifications of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile), the SLS AMG GT3 is designed as a racing sports car for customers competing in sprints and long-distance races. As prescribed by the FIA GT3 rules, the AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine is practically identical to that in the standard model. Thanks to its lower weight, the GT3 will considerably better the acceleration of the standard model – about 3.8 seconds from zero to 60; depending on the final drive ratio, the top speed will exceed 190 mph.
Here’s how Mercedes describes some other SLS AMG GT3 enhancements: The trunk lid is surmounted by a wide carbon-fiber rear spoiler, which has multiple adjustments that can be setup for the type of racetrack concerned. The new rear apron features two apertures designed to vent the rear wheel arches. The carbon-fiber rear diffuser is an extension to the smooth underbody and gradually rises in the rear axle area and generates a downforce thanks to its shape. The overall aerodynamic concept of the SLS AMG GT3 was refined and finalized in extensive wind tunnel and racetrack tests.
The stock SLS has piled up the awards. It was named the 2011 Playboy Car of the Year. German trade journal "Auto Zeitung" named it Best Super Sports Car.