2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG gets the Ride Control sport suspension

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 18, 2011

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG comes with several new features that are nothing short of excellent. These include the tiny details like the rims, exterior colors and trimming. This supercar can now be equipped with AMG’s new Ride Control suspension. It will get adaptive dampers and its suspension isn’t just electronically adapted to the road as the driver could select from three modes: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.

The setting dubbed “Comfort" is recommended for cruising at moderate speeds such as in urban traffic or on motorway sections with speed limits. However, a good number of SLS AMG drivers still want to use the “Comfort” mode even on poor, bumpy road surfaces due to its softer damper setup.

The “Sport” mode offers the best compromise between satisfactory suspension comfort, low body movements and high agility. The “Sport” mode is applicable to most driving situations.

Meanwhile, “Sport plus" is recommended for quick lap times on a race circuit. This mode has higher damping forces and has special control algorithms configured for a distinctly sporty driving style on road surfaces that are uneven.

One of the most anticipated new technical features is a new shock absorber in the AMG drive unit, which is positioned on the center console. This optional extra costs EUR2,320 (about $3,200).

The AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension features an electronic damper control that employs acceleration sensors that could detect dynamic body and wheel movements -- both totally and in relation to the other one. High-performance control electronics also monitors and evaluates various parameters relevant to the driving dynamics like drive and braking moments, lateral/linear acceleration, and the steering angle as well as current vehicle speed, selected gear ratios and wheel rotation speeds.

To make sure that the forces of the four new shock absorbers are instantly adapted, the engine and transmission control unit are always in contact with the control electronics. Contingent on the chosen suspension mode, various control configurations as well as parameter weightings work to achieve a practical balance between dynamic performance and comfort.

Moreover, the oil flow between the lower and upper chamber is controlled by electromagnetically actuated valves in the shock absorbers. More oil flows through the valves in "Comfort" mode, and less in "Sport" and "Sport plus" modes.

On the other hand, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is fitted with double wishbone suspension made from forged aluminum. All wheels are supported by double wishbones with a track rod, making it possible to separate the wheel location and suspension functions.

The spring/damper struts, meanwhile are supported on the lower wishbone. This configuration features high camber and track rigidity, making it easy to locate the wheel with minimal elastic movements – resulting to a more optimal sense of road contact even when the car is driven at the limits. Since the wishbones, hub carriers steering and knuckles both at the front and rear are made of forged aluminum, they do not only reduce the unsprung masses but also enhance the suspension response.

Moreover, since the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG has a wheelbase measuring 2,680 mm, it is more stable when travelling on straight lines. This wheelbase length also allows for low wheel load shifts, which could substantially reduce the car’s tendency to dive and squat during braking and accelerating.

In addition, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG features wider tracks both on the front (1,682 mm) and on the rear (1,653 mm), which help ensure lower shifts in the wheel loads from the inner to the outer wheel while cornering, which means higher tire grip during the maneuver.

To ensure that the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG features an ideal front/rear weight distribution (47 percent to 53 percent), a front-mid-engine plus transaxle configuration was chosen. By placing the engine behind the front axle, the SLS AMG is capable of offering supreme driving dynamics, precise steering and excellent agility, as well as superb traction, low inertia with spontaneous directional changes.

Press Release

AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension with adaptive damping: New optional extras for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is now even more attractive and individual. The new high-tech option of the AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension with adaptive damping combines concerted performance-orientation with optimal comfort on long journeys. Blind Spot Assist improves active safety on board the gull-wing model. Further optional features such as AMG 10-spoke forged wheels painted in matt black, red-painted brake callipers or AMG high-gloss black trim make for even more exclusivity.

A glance at the centre console of the SLS AMG not only reveals the stylishly designed, new E-SELECT lever with its embossed AMG emblem, but also a new shock absorber symbol in the AMG DRIVE UNIT. This key symbolises the new AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension with variable, electronically controlled damping. Depending on the driving situation, speed and road surface conditions, this optional system almost instantly varies the damping characteristics and automatically reduces the body roll angles. For the driver this means immediate and variable adaptation between the greatest possible agility and the best possible ride comfort – for any driving style and route.

Maximum individuality: "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport plus"

A small key with a major effect: pressing the shock absorber symbol allows individual, convenient adjustment of the damping characteristics. There is a choice of three modes: "Comfort", "Sport" and "Sport plus". The currently selected mode is shown in the AMG main menu.

"Comfort" is automatically active whenever the engine is started, and provides a sensitive damper responce with comfort-oriented characteristics. "Comfort" is recommended for cruising at moderate speeds – e.g. in urban traffic or on motorway sections with speed restrictions. But even on poor, bumpy road surfaces, "Comfort" mode will be the first choice of many SLS AMG drivers by virtue of the softer damper setup.

To select "Sport" mode the key in the AMG DRIVE UNIT is pressed once. The left control lamp in the key and the AMG main menu display tell the driver that "Sport" mode has been manually activated. In "Sport" mode the shock absorbers have a tauter response depending on the driving situation, which not only ensures better road contact when driving in a sporty manner, but also more effectively reduces body roll and pitching. In most driving situations, "Sport" mode provides the best compromise between satisfactory suspension comfort, low body movements and high agility.

"Sport plus" is recommended for fast lap times on a race circuit: apart from higher damping forces, this mode has special control algorithms configured for a decidedly sporty driving style on uneven road surfaces. The driver is able to store his personal setup using the AMG key in the AMG DRIVE UNIT. Sustained pressure on the AMG symbol stores the currently selected suspension mode and also the selected transmission mode. As before, the driver has four different transmission modes available: fuel economy mode "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) and "M" (Manual). Brief pressure on the AMG key quickly and conveniently activates the preferred combination.

With immediate effect, the new AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension is available on request for the SLS AMG Coupé and Roadster. Alternatively the gull-wing model is available with the basic AMG suspension or the AMG Performance suspension, both without variable damping characteristics.

Numerous parameters monitored by electronics

The electronic damper control is based on acceleration sensors which register dynamic vehicle body and wheel movements, both absolutely and in relation to each other. Other factors relevant to the driving dynamics, such as drive and braking moments, the steering angle and lateral/linear acceleration are continuously registered and evaluated. The current vehicle speed, wheel rotation speeds and selected gear ratios are also continuously analysed. High-performance control electronics in permanent dialogue with the engine and transmission control unit ensure that the forces of the four newly developed shock absorbers are adapted practically instantly.

Depending on the selected suspension mode, different control configurations and parameter weightings are active to strike the best possible balance between comfort and dynamic performance. Electromagnetically actuated valves in the shock absorbers control the oil flow between the lower and upper chamber. In "Comfort" mode more oil flows through the valves, and less in "Sport" and "Sport plus" mode.

Double wishbone suspension of forged aluminium

All four wheels are located on double wishbones with a track rod, a technology that has proven itself in motor racing right through to Formula 1. With a double-wishbone axle, the wheel location and suspension functions remain separate; the spring/damper struts are supported on the lower wishbone. The double-wishbone concept with its high camber and track rigidity positively locates the wheel with minimal elastic movements, providing the driver with an optimum sense of road contact when driving at the limits.

Wishbones, steering knuckles and hub carriers at the front and rear are made entirely from forged aluminium – substantially reducing the unsprung masses; this configuration also notably improves the suspension response. The long wheelbase of 2680 millimetres not only results in outstanding straight-line stability but also low wheel load shifts, significantly reducing the vehicle's tendency to dive and squat when braking and accelerating. The broad track width – front 1682, rear 1653 millimetres – ensures lower shifts in the wheel loads from the inner to the outer wheel when cornering, enabling the tyres to retain more grip.

The chosen solution with a front-mid-engine plus transaxle configuration ensures an ideal front/rear weight distribution of 47 to 53 percent. Mounting the engine behind the front axle has created the ideal conditions for consummate driving dynamics with precise steering, first-class agility, low inertia with spontaneous directional changes and outstanding traction.

Direct steering, differential lock and 3-stage ESP®

The rack-and-pinion steering gear provides a consistently direct steering feel with a constant mechanical ratio of 13.6:1, in tune with the high expectations placed on a super sports car. The power steering provides speed-sensitive assistance and improves feedback for the driver as the road speed increases: an indispensable factor for high-speed straight-line driving. Mounting the steering gear in front of the engine on the integral subframe enables the engine to be set down very low. The SLS AMG comes with 3-stage ESP® as standard, providing the driver with access to the three "ESP ON", "SPORT Handling mode" and "ESP OFF" modes at the touch of a button. In "ESP OFF" mode too, vigorously operating the brake pedal restores all the normal ESP® functions.

The acceleration skid control (ASR) system's traction logic is active in all three ESP® modes. If one of the drive wheels starts to spin, specific brake pressure is applied to improve traction significantly – especially in conjunction with the standard-fit mechanical multi-disc limited-slip differential. This means that the engine power is transferred to the road even more effectively when driving in a particularly dynamic style.

Blind Spot Assist increases active safety

The new, optionally available Blind Spot Assist is able to increase active safety. This visual and acoustic warning system uses the close-range radar sensors of the standard PARKTRONIC system to recognise vehicles in good time where visibility is restricted. When the system registers another vehicle in the blind spot, this is indicated to the driver by a red triangle lighting up in the relevant exterior mirror. An acoustic warning also sounds if the driver operates the indicators despite the visual warning.

Blind Spot Assist is operational from a speed of 30 km/h. It monitors the area around the vehicle to a distance of around 3.5 metres on each side and three metres beyond the rear. Vehicles in the process of overtaking are shown immediately when they enter the monitored area of the difference in relative speeds between the two vehicles is not more than 16 km/h. Vehicles that have just been overtaken are however shown with a delay of 1.5 seconds after entering the monitored area, thus preventing distraction by unnecessary warnings.

New optional appointments for more style and design

Available as an optional extra, the car's visual appearance is enhanced by weight-optimised AMG 10-spoke forged wheels shod with tyres in size 265/35 R 19 (front) and 295/30 R 20 (rear). Their matt black paint finish corresponds perfectly with the high-sheen rim flange. Optional red-painted brake callipers all-round provide a further visual highlight.

Single-tone or two-tone designo leather in espresso brown is available as a new interior colour – this dark shade of brown perfectly matches the new metallic paint finish AMG Sepang brown. New AMG high-gloss black trim (optional) is an exclusive alternative to the standard centre conslole in solid metal or the optional carbon-fibre trim.

All prices for the new features at a glance (incl. 19 % VAT):

AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension with adaptive damping: € 2320.50
AMG 10-spoke forged wheels with matt black paint finish and high-sheen rim flange: € 3272.50
Red-painted brake callipers: € 714.20
Blind Spot Assist: € 773.50
AMG Sepang brown metallic: € 2439.50
AMG high-gloss black trim: € 2320

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