Mercedes unveils powerhouse as Peugeot bows out of Le Mans
MOST powerful Mercedes SLK so far? Naturally, the latest, the 55 AMG, with a 415bhp unblown 5.5 litre petrol V8 giving 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds, 33.6mpg and 195g/km CO2.
Details include a sevenspeed automatic gearbox, and the 30 per cent economy/co2 saving by shutting down two cylinders on each bank at low throttle, plus stop-start ignition.
There is the necessary high performance chassis and brake modification, 18in wheels and a not-too-scary price of £54,950. Further handling and driver packs and a top speed de-limiter are offered.
Peugeot’s chase for further glory at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race ended this week with the decision to stop long-distance sports car racing for financial reasons after five years. “This decision has been taken in the context of a difficult economic environment in Europe,” said the company.
Life is tough for the Peugeot-citroen group, with cost savings and efficiency more vital than chasing the chequered flag. Peugeot won Le Mans twice in the 1990s and then in 2009 broke Audi’s diesel domination with its own diesel racer. In 2010 and 2011 it had near misses, taking podium places behind Audi. Jean Todt, president of the governing International Automobile Federation who managed Peugeot’s team when it won Le Mans in 1992 and 1993, was disappointed by the decision, reports Reuters.
“To lose such a strong player like Peugeot is bad news, indicating what a tough period the automotive industry is going through, and this group in particular,” he said. “I believe that it is especially true that in tough times one should find ways of expressing full commitment, rather than pulling out.”
The Automobile Club de l’ouest, which runs the race, said it “deeply regrets the departure of the French manufacturer just at the moment when, with the creation of the new FIA World Endurance Championship, the future of endurance racing looks more prestigious than ever.” That said, the ACO had been applying stiffer handicaps year after year to limit the advantage of diesel power. Toyota has announced its return to the 24-hour race after a 13-year absence, using a petrol hybrid racer.