The Mercedes SLS AMG is no more. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as its been replaced by the brilliant Mercedes-AMG GT. As sure as night follows day, there will be a GT3 racing version of the AMG GT to replace SLS AMG GT3 (that’s a lot of letters!) and this is it.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT3 has some extremely big shoes to fill, as its predecessor is probably the most successful car since the GT3 category was inaugurated in 2006. In a five-year career, the SLS AMG GT3 has won 182 races and scored nearly 1,000 top ten finishes. Last year alone, it won six championships across the globe.
AMG has elected not to use the GT road car’s twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 engine for the race car, instead sticking with the SLS’s thunderous 6.3-litre V8 – Mercedes itself says it will ring in the new racing season “with the sonorous sound of the V8 engine.”
We’d like to think they’ve stuck with the existing engine just because it sounds like a World War Two fighter plane. In reality it’s that the unit is a known quantity to the dozens of teams that run the SLS, with bullet-proof reliability and low maintenance and running costs. If it ain’t broke…
Power will be dictated by the Balance of Performance system that equalises speed across the incredibly diverse GT3 field, but expect around 550bhp.
As per the road car, the GT3 uses a light, strong aluminium spaceframe chassis, bolstered by a full roll cage. Carbonfibre is used for the bonnet, front wings, front and rear aprons, sidewalls, side skirts, boot lid and seat pan.
There’s the obligatory bulging wheelarches, filled out with a wider track; road-scraping front splitter; huge rear diffuser and immense rear wing. It’s racing weight has yet to be set, but the class average is around 1,300kg.
There’s a nice little stylistic nod to Mercedes’ racing past in the AMG GT3, as well. The front grille, with it vertical slats, recalls the original 300SL that took victory at Le Mans in 1952.
AMG will spend the rest of 2015 testing and developing the new machine after displaying it at the Geneva Motor Show next week. The first examples will be delivered to customer teams towards the end of this year, ready for the 2016 season.