When you hear that Italian car maker De Tomaso is back after a 7 year absence, you’d be forgiven for getting excited by the prospect – after all this is the same marque that gave us the Pantera GTS, a direct competitor in its time to Lamborghini’s Countach. But I’ve felt almost embarrassed to publish the story, less I betray the disappointment that surfaces every time I see pictures of the sensible looking De Tomaso SLS. It’s just not a De Tomaso though, is it?
The initials SLS are supposed to represent “Sport Luxury Sedan”, although this is still provisional – the final name of this luxury sedan will be unveiled during the presentation at the Geneva Motor Show (3-13 March). Maybe it’s all just a bad dream and they’ll launch something suitably in keeping with the brand instead…
The De Tomaso SLS is perhaps closest in philosophy and looks to BMW’s 5-Series GT – it’s just under 5 metres long and approximately 1.65 metres tall, providing a more spacious interior than a typical luxury saloon (sound familiar?). Power is transmitted via 4-wheel drive while there will initially be two petrol engines available, a 296bhp 6-cylinder and a 542bhp V8, but these will eventually be joined by a 247bhp V6 diesel.
Ground clearance makes it sort of a cross between an SUV and saloon – furthermore reinforcing the parallels with BMW’s 5 GT. The SLS uses an all-aluminium chassis using a patented process called UNIVIS, although if rumours are to be believed the SLS is heavily based on the Cadillac SRX.
The brand founded in 1959 by Alejandro De Tomaso, went into adminstration 7 years ago and has been revitalised by entrepreneur and former Fiat marketing executive, Gian Mario Rossignolo who is leading an investment of € 116 million over the next four years, to produce 3 new models including the SLS and an unknown four-door coupé.
Full production is expected to reach 8,000 cars across the range, but we can’t help wishing that Rossignolo had chosen to resurrect a brand more suited to the task.