The SLR McLaren: The Design | Part Two

The SLR McLaren

 

Twin-headlamp face, plus styling touches from the Silver Arrows Formula One Car

It's the long, sweeping lines of the bonnet, the succinctly styled air gills in the wings, the eye-catching sidepipes, the compact tail and, last but by no means least, the gullwing doors which breathe life into the SLR legend. These design features first caused a sensation back in 1952, and have remained the hallmark of thoroughbred Mercedes sports cars ever since.

These and other styling elements rooted in the SLR tradition are harmonised smoothly with the latest Mercedes design traits: these include the distinctive "twin-headlamp face", which has been blazing a trail since it first appeared in 1995, and the fascinating interplay of soft contours and taut lines, a characteristic which runs through many of the models in the current Mercedes portfolio.

The bodystyling of the SLR is also modelled on the McLaren Mercedes Silver Arrows. The arrow-shaped nose, which encompasses the Mercedes star at the front and gives the bumper as a whole a bolder, more powerful look, stems from the championship-winning Formula One car, as does the twin-fin spoiler in the front bumper. Again, this is more than just an identifying design feature, as it is also crucial to the vehicle's aerodynamics and engine cooling.

Seen from the side, the eye is immediately caught by the flat, wedge-shaped form of the new high-performance supercar. This is created primarily by the long bonnet, the steeply raked front windscreen, the rearwards positioning of the passenger cockpit, the large wheels and the compact tail. Thanks to these proportions, the side profile lends further emphasis to the sense of forwards surge which courses through the new SLR.

The designers have incorporated a further SLR element in the form of the finned side air gills in the front wings, although they do far more than recall just the design of the legendary racing cars from 1955: today, as indeed back then, the side air outlets serve to ventilate the engine compartment. The designers have underlined their practical function by the use of sweeping lines which continue into the gullwing doors.
Unmistakable tail with exemplary aerodynamic qualities

The design of the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren's tail end marks a breakaway from that of its legendary predecessor. Whereas the tail of the original racing cars sloped gradually downwards, the boot lid of the new Gran Turismo model continues straight backwards at the same high level. As well as increasing the luggage capacity, this also serves to reduce lift and aerodynamic drag, translating into enhanced roadholding ability. The new six-channel diffuser in the rear bumper also has an important role to play here.

An interior that fits like a glove and "Silver Arrow" leather in peerless quality

It is the very high levels of practicality and luxury that truly make the high-performance sportster's interior stand out. Individually padded bucket seats combine with a multifunction steering wheel with race-car-type buttons for manual gear selection and clearly arranged chronometer-style gauges to ensure that drivers can keep the SLR comfortably under control at all times, and that they have all the information they need conveniently at their fingertips.

High-grade materials set the interior tone: aluminium, carbon and supple "Silver Arrow" leather, which was specially developed for the new sports car and sets benchmark standards in terms of its quality and its material thickness.

Published 14 July 2003 Melanie Carter

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