Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Mercedes-Benz has released sketches of the SLS AMG showing its 'swing-wing' door layout, an echo of the 300SL Gullwing's, and its two-seat interior, said to be aircraft-inspired. Cockpit features include jet-style air vents, a gear-lever like a thrust control, a center console like a plane's operating console, and a wide wing-shaped dashboard. This previews the Mercedes cabins of the future, apparently.

Mercedes will offer a choice of black, red, sand, porcelain or light brown leather upholstery, with light anthracite headlining; carbon fiber trim is optional. Switchgear is finished with metal-look soft-touch paint, instrument dials are backlit in white with red needles, and the small steering wheel is flat-bottomed, racing car-style. Occupants sit just 369mm above the road - but suitably cosseted in well-bolstered seats with lightweight magnesium backrests.

The exterior outline retains the usual SL-family long-hood, taut tail format, with low roofline and greenhouse slung rearward; it's a clear progression from the Mercedes-McLaren SLR. An extendable aerofoil preserves the sleek outline when stationary and at low speeds. The roof-mounted doors open by up to 70 degrees, supported by gas-pressure struts.

GAC VIP Lounge concept

GAC (Guangzhou Auto Company) bought the rights, tooling, machinery and equipment from Fiat late last year to make its own version of the Alfa Romeo 166 - and here is the Chinese Alfa, under the nametag VIP Lounge. Despite a low-impact restyling and some fussier detailing - thought to be the work of Stile Bertone - the Italianate lines are still clear, even if the badge is unfamiliar and the front grille/rear fascia heavily Honda-influenced.

GAC, which builds local-market models for Honda and Toyota, intends to launch its own-brand range next year, headed up by this sedan. This model will be positioned part-way between large family models and luxury-class limousines. However, though re-engineered in Turin, it will be fitted with locally-sourced engines, and there are no plans for exports.