2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

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12 CITY / 16 HWY
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What Changed for 2009:
  • coupe and Roadster unchanged
  • Automatic power convertible top opens in 10 seconds
  • Vehicle rigidity is not compromised in Roadster
  • Carbon-fiber monocoque chassis
  • coupe accelerates to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds
Inspired by the classic Mercedes-Benz SLR of 1955, the McLaren SLR Roadster is a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and its Formula 1 partner, McLaren. The first modern SLR was introduced as a coupe in 2005, and it quickly vaulted to the top tier of the exotic sport/GT class.

For the 2008 model year, the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR Roadster with a semi-automatic top joined the lineup. Mercedes says the McLaren SLR Roadster's folding convertible soft top does not compromise structural rigidity (or aerodynamic efficiency). With either body style, the McLaren SLR boasts 617 hp under its long composite hood. Except for two aluminum engine frames, the SLR's body is made entirely of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic-including the front crash structure, which is said to absorb four to five times more energy than steel in a severe collision.

Mercedes offers a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty on the SLR, with free roadside assistance for the life of the vehicle.

Model Lineup
Two McLaren SLR models again are offered for 2009: coupe and Roadster. Both carry forward unchanged for the new model year. Unlike most vehicles that experience extensive chassis rigidity compromises in order to accommodate a convertible version, the SLR Roadster emerges from the transformation nearly unscathed, according to the automaker. The SLR Roadster's structural integrity and acceleration are nearly identical to that of the coupe, and the Roadster even retains the coupe's gullwing-opening doors. Offered in a choice of three colors, the retractable hard top is designed to blend into the car's silhouette. To lower the top, it must be unlocked from the windshield frame and then raised slightly. Then, an electric motor folds it away in less than 10 seconds. Cockpit aerodynamics and wind flow have been designed so that conversation with the top down is possible even at high speeds, according to Mercedes-Benz.

Standard equipment on the McLaren SLR includes dual-zone automatic climate control; Grand Nappa leather upholstery; bi-Xenon headlamps; and carbon-fiber bucket seats covered in semi-aniline leather. The standard stereo is a Bose Cabin Surround multi-channel sound system. The 7-speaker system recreates a 360-degree sound field within the cabin, and offers Bose AudioPilot for automatic volume control based on ambient noise. Nineteen-inch light alloy wheels with high-performance tires are standard. The options list is limited to several customer-specific requests. These include special paint choices for the brake calipers, and special interior upholstery. Like a custom tailored suit, different-sized custom seat pads adapt the seat contour to the anatomy of the driver and front passenger.

The 5.5-liter, hand-built, supercharged V-8 engine resides under the long front hood of the 2009 McLaren SLR in a front-mid engine configuration-unlike most exotics that find their engines behind the driver. Twin intercoolers cool the pressurized intake, helping the engine to crank out 617 hp and 575 lb.-ft. of torque. A 5-speed AMG SpeedShift automatic transmission sends that energy to the rear wheels. Each engine is hand-built at the AMG facility in Germany, but the cars are produced in England.

According to Mercedes, 0-60 mph comes up in 3.8 seconds for the coupe (the Roadster is one tenth of a second slower). In tests conducted by the automaker, the SLR coupe did not run out of steam until it hit more than 207 mph (the Roadster is good for 206 mph). EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2009 SLR coupe are 11 mpg city/16 mpg highway.

With a body shell and chassis made entirely of high-strength carbon fiber (the same material used in racecars and aircraft), the SLR is one of the safest vehicles on the road, Mercedes claims. Driver and passenger are protected by six air bags (front, side, and knee), seat belt pre-tensioners, and belt-force limiters. Electronic safety aids include anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), and brake assist. Two fixed rollover bars are installed.

Due to its limited production, the SLR has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Like an airplane, the SLR is fitted with an air brake integrated into the trunk lid to provide additional stability at high speed, as well as improve stopping power when decelerating, Mercedes says. At low speeds, it remains flush with the rear decklid of the vehicle. At highway speeds, it will automatically raise 10 degrees (or more, via a driver-selectable switch in the cockpit) to add downforce for stability. Under heavy braking above 59 mph, it will quickly raise 65 degrees to add drag, helping to slow the vehicle. A diffuser in the rear bumper provides increased downforce on the car's back end. The ceramic disc brakes are managed by Sensotronic Brake Control, an electrohydraulic braking system that precisely controls how much stopping force is applied to each wheel for better vehicle control, according to Mercedes. The system includes automatic brake drying and predictive braking-both designed to shorten emergency stopping distances.


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