Mercedes-Benz released photos of its upcoming convertible SLS AMG Roadster undergoing testing in Stuttgart. Barely disguised with black adhesive foil at the front, rear and along the sides, the Roadster appears to have the same body proportions as its coupe sibling, which debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt International Automobile Show, but sans gullwings and a fixed roof.
The Roadster will be equipped with a 6.3-liter V-8 engine that produces 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Chopping the top off the SLS required a few structural changes. To create driving dynamics that are identical to the coupe model, Mercedes designed more robust side skirts, added supporting struts at the windshield frame and center tunnel, and stiffened the rear axle using a structure between the soft top and the tank.
These changes should help dampen vibrations without adding a lot of weight. Even with electrohydraulic equipment that lets the driver close the soft top in 11 seconds while driving up to 31 mph, the Roadster's 536-pound body shell is only 5 pounds heavier than the coupe.
The SLS AMG Roadster is expected to have its world premiere at the 2011 Frankfurt auto show in September. Before then, it will undergo extensive testing before it goes to market. For one of its practical trials, the Roadster will travel to Laredo, Texas to see how well the convertible's seals keep out the area's notoriously fine dust that permeates practically all barriers.
Probably the most crucial of the standard tests will be the "Sindelfingen rain test," which is actually a series of 16 tests that will validate the SLS AMG Roadster's watertightness. Among other trials, the SLS AMG Roadster will have its flap seals sprayed with a water hose, experience continuous overnight rain, withstand swirl and high-pressure tests, and for the final stage of the gantlet, run through an automatic car wash.