The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is just…

I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this car but it sure made me look, three times! I never realized how wide, low and brutish the design was until I saw one today. More Mustang than Mercedes, I would say. The new design just oozes power, so much different from the original classic 300 SL that communicated power in a more refined manner.

The 300 SL Gullwing introduced in 1954 is among, if not the, most famous cars from the marque. It was a road-going version of the very successful gullwing racers, and it was most impressive. The iconic doors lifted like wings to accommodate load-bearing members in its space-frame chassis. The racers were particularly potent, with straight eight-cylinder engines that featured fuel injection and desmodromic valves. It was enough to win at places like Le Mans, the Targa Florio and, of course, its most famous victory at the hands of a young Stirling Moss and Dennis Jenkinson during the 1955 Mille Miglia.

I also find that the softer tail design fights with the harder silhouette lines that start from the iconic grill. But I can see how the lines are intended to loop around the back to the other headlight or grill. Regardless, I am pretty impressed with the SLS AMG and a number of other releases in the recent years. It is looking like the Mercedes marque is returning to prominence on the back of a number of provocative designs. Now I just need to drive one!

Quote via Wired and Images from Mercedes Benz.

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Brian Ling (Design Sojourn)

Brian is a multidisciplinary Design Leader with more than 18 years of experience leading strategic design programs that drives successful Brands and Fortune 500 businesses such as GE, Philips, Nakamichi, Flextronics, Ericsson, Hannspree, and HP. His passion is in helping organisations leverage on Design Driven Innovation to make people’s lives better.

  • treach

    .  4 years ago

    i Love this car but it has a big engine

    Reply
  • Danny

    .  6 years ago

    @Brandon This car is not a face-lift of the previous gen SLR. It was not even meant to be a Mercedes. What you see here is the failed aspirations of a Dodge Viper. After Daimler decided to split from Chrysler and the recession kicked in, MB decided that this was a good start to their new SLS which was created in conjuction with McLaren. The chassis is all American while the engine and suspension is German engineering. At least they didn’t re-animate another MB SL and call it a day. I think this car is beautiful except for the Honda Prelude headlights.

    http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/2010/06/mercedes-benz-sls-started-out-as-the-next-generation-dodge-viper.html

    Reply
  • Jasper

    .  6 years ago

    i think its great! you have to look at all generations of the SL to really be able to make a good judgement. looking at the 1954 and the new one above – you cannot make that jump. i suggest you look at all generations of the SL and then tell me if the new SL lost its IDENTITY!

    Reply
  • Brandon

    .  6 years ago

    DT that is true! great article. It has made me think, What was the brief? Design wise was it a success when compared to the 300SL? and What was the thinking behind the original 300 SL i.e. did they know they were making something beautiful.

    Looking forward to the next article DT

    Reply
  • Design Translator

    .  6 years ago

    @brandon: You be surprised how much cultural definitions on what is sexy, sleek, fast can differ from decade to decade!

    Reply
  • Brandon

    .  6 years ago

    This just shows touching something iconic is always a problem because different conditions and ingredients occur when something is created and becomes an icon. And the ingredient is rarely warming over an icon haha!

    My mind is blown by your comment above on the descriptions of each car with the 300 SL (fascination in the race to the moon and the future) and the SLS (raw emotion, and in this case Power and, I dare say, Sex) because if you swap the descriptions the 300 SL exudes emotion with is curves and looks powerful with its long front engines nose which make this a sexy iconic car. It is the SLS which designers may have wanted to be powerful and sexy but it looks like its a F14 about to take off.

    So to be bold and answer your question will say
    The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is just… a repackaged Mercedes SLR (looks like it uses the same chassis to me!) benz are losing there way amongst the competition.

    Reply
  • Design Translator

    .  6 years ago

    @carl: I suspect both cars have to thank the influence of the times the cars existed in. The 300SL was about the fascination in the race to the moon and the future that would be. Where as the SLS is about raw emotion, and in this case Power and, I dare say, Sex. It does seems to me that cars these days are all about an expression of that.

    @brandon: Great angle to approach this discussion. I would have to say if there was no 300SL, I would say my feelings would be pretty much the same or worst. In fact, if there were no 300SL, there would be no Gull-Wing. And then I would compared it with the Audi A5, BMW Z4 or even the Corvette or Mustang as mentioned in my post. From that angle, I might actually have said the SLS struggles to create a distinct statement. Now that I think about it again, the Gull Wing and that front grill design really made a difference.

    Reply
  • Brandon

    .  6 years ago

    Hi DS i get the feeling you want to like it but find id hard to like it 100%. I feel the same way and realised a few things.

    1. The original was compact and had sweeping curves

    2. The sweeping curves strikes an emotional connection

    3. Obviously the original was the ‘original’. Copies rarely have the same surprise and impact as the original.

    The question is would we like the SLS if it was produced today and there was no 300 SL? for me the answer would be a yes and it would surprise like when the mercedes unveiled the A1 (A180)

    So my question to you DS is if the SLS was produced today and there was no 300 SL, how would you feel about the design?

    Reply
  • Carl

    .  6 years ago

    I think it’s really difficult to “re-imagine” something that is so iconic, like the original 300SL. I haven’t seen an SLS in person, but I think I would agree with your thoughts on it being very powerful looking. And in my mind, that idea of power is not what the 300SL was all about. The 300SL is just so elegant compared to the SLS. In my mind, the 300SL is to the SLS, as the original Nissan Skyline GT-R is to the new Nissan GT-R: the latter being too macho, too ‘pumped up on steroids’.

    Reply

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