Mercedes-Benz launched its new AMG-badged Formula One racer in Spain this week, but it was the unveiling at the Barcelona test session of another fast car - the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG – that is of more interest to drivers not called Nico Rosberg or Michael Schumacher.
The F1 stars (Nico pictured with car below) took the wraps off the new Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG before taking a spin in the 395kW roadster that reaches Australia in the third quarter of 2012 along with regular SLs.
As with the other members of the new SL family, the SL63 AMG benefits from extensive use of aluminium. The company, which secretly learned construction techniques from aluminium masters Jaguar, has used the lightweight metal for the SL’s bodyshell, suspension and folding roof.
The result sees the SL63 AMG chop 125kg from its predecessor’s kerb weight, to hit the scales at a still-not-quite-lean 1845kg.
Under the bonnet, the old SL63 AMG’s 386kW/630Nm 6.2-litre normally aspirated V8 makes way for the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 already slotted into other AMG models such as the E63, CLS 63, S63 and ML63.
In the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG it produces 395kW of power at 5500rpm and 800Nm of torque between 2000 and 4500rpm.
That will propel the SL63 AMG from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds or from standstill to 200km/h in 12.9 seconds, with a top speed of 250km/h.
As with most AMG models now, you can further improve all those figures by paying extra for an AMG Performance pack.
This lifts power and torque to 415kW and 900Nm (latter produced from 2250-3750rpm) and shaves a tenth from the 0-100km/h sprint, three-tenths from the 0-200km/h run, and increases maximum speed to 300km/h.
Huge brakes – 390mm discs and six-piston calipers up front, 360mm discs and single floating calipers at the rear – provide the essential stopping power.
There are improvements in efficiency, too, however. The new Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG reduces consumption and emissions by about 30 per cent, with its official fuel economy dropping from 14.1/100km to 9.9L/100km.
Consumption is helped by a standard engine stop-start system.
The AMG version of the new SL carries subtle visual distinctions from models such as the SL350 and SL500, including a twin- rather than single-bar grille, bespoke LED daytime running lights positions higher in the side intakes, an inverted central air intake, five-twin-spoke, 19-inch alloy wheels, bootlid spoiler and a revised lower bumper featuring quad exhaust pipes.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG also features AMG-tuned sports suspension with variable dampers, quicker, AMG-specific steering, a four-mode seven-speed auto, and a three-stage stability control system that, for this model, includes a 'Sport handling' mode that will appeal to driving enthusiasts.
The SL63 AMG's roof can be stowed in less than 20 seconds, while the lid - as with the smaller SLK - comes in three varieties: painted roof; glass roof; or 'Magic sky control' roof that allows the driver to alternate the roof's transparency between clear and dark at the touch of a button.
Optional features, at least for European versions, include the Airscarf neck-warming system, active parking assist technology, lane-keeping and blind-spot warning systems and a choice of fancy high-end audios from either Bang & Olufsen or Harman-Kardon.
Mercedes-Benz Australia says it's too early for an indication of pricing, though the outgoing SL63 AMG asked $418,670.
An even more expensive flagship SL model is expected to sit above the SL63 AMG.
Mercedes has already sold more than 26,500 V8-powered SL AMG models globally.