All cars can be placed on a continuum that ranges from practical transportation to flamboyant plaything. Near the exotic end of that range is where you'll find the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. One look at this luxury sports car from Mercedes' performance-oriented AMG division, and the resemblance to the brand's iconic mid-1950s-era 300SL coupe is unmistakable. From the long hood and short rear deck to the coupe's distinctive vertically opening doors that gave that original model its "Gullwing" nickname, the SLS AMG's styling pays homage to that classic model while still managing to be fresh and contemporary.
While its appearance is less showy than many candy-colored supercars, don't let its understated design fool you. With its powerful, hand-built 6.2-liter V8, near-perfect weight distribution and massive disc brakes, this classy coupe and roadster offer a combination of uptown sophistication and thrilling performance that earn it a place among the flashiest ultra-high-end sport coupes out there.
Current Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a luxury sports car that's offered in two body styles: a convertible (dubbed the Roadster) and a coupe with vertically raising "gullwing" doors. Under the hood of both is a 6.2-liter V8 that puts out 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. All that power gets sent to a rear-mounted seven-speed automated manual transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles and four separate driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport-Plus and Manual).
As you'd expect, the SLS AMG comes loaded with high-end standard features including huge alloy wheels (19-inchers in front and 20-inchers out back), bi-xenon headlights, parking sensors, a rearview camera, keyless ignition/entry, leather upholstery and a faux-suede headliner, dual-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system and a premium audio system with a CD/DVD changer, satellite radio and iPod input. The Roadster adds a power-operated soft top roof and Mercedes' "AirScarf" feature. The options list includes a wide range of goodies from cutting-edge carbon-ceramic brakes and an 11-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system to unique exterior paint finishes.
Inside the SLS AMG's cabin is generally comfortable, though the passenger seat offers less legroom than the generous driver seat does. Most folks -- especially the vertically challenged -- will find it takes some effort to reach the handles on the coupe's open gullwing doors. The convertible obviously doesn't suffer from such issues. Once settled in, your surroundings couldn't be more luxurious. The trunk provides only 6 cubic feet of space in both trims, but that's actually generous for an exotic and will still swallow a golf bag or enough luggage for most folks' weekend getaways.
As for the driving experience, the SLS AMG offers surprisingly neutral handling given its radical cab-rearward design. The steering that seems light at low speeds feels wonderfully tactile and responsive once the speedometer needle begins spinning clockwise. The SLS also turns in some mighty impressive performance numbers, starting with a sprint to 60 mph of just 3.8 seconds. Braking distances are equally noteworthy, with a panic stop from 60 mph requiring less than 100 feet. The automated manual transmission does a good job of serving the needs of everyday driving and more sporting weekend jaunts, but its shift response is slow compared to the latest automated manuals from Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche.
Used Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Models
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was an all-new model for 2011 and was originally available only as the coupe. The Roadster followed the next year.