Mercedes has a wide range of super cars, but only a handful of the vehicles in its history qualify as true supercars.
The original 300SL Gullwing was one, the early-2000s SLR another. Fuse them together--the heritage cues of the former, the epic performance of the latter--and you have the SLS AMG, now offered in either gullwing or roadster form, and a perfect 10 here at MotorAuthority.
In either body style, the SLS AMG is a supersonic ambassador for the AMG brand within a brand. And both are more emotionally styled than some of the clinical cars in the class--the GT-R, the LFA. The gullwing rocks out when its doors are open, casting an unearthly shadow, but the appeal wears off when the doors close and when it's seen in profile, or from the rear quarters. The balance is lacking--but it all comes into focus on the Roadster, which snips off the signature doors and in doing so, grows more lithe, more vintage in its proportions, with hints of Silver Arrow Benzes and bullet-nose T-Birds in its profile. The sparing bits of heritage design in the cockpit are put to smart use--there's a faint echo of the three-pointed star in the gimballed metal air vents--and they're woven in with buttery leather, real chrome and aluminum, even carbon-fiber cliche trim if you must.
The shock and awe of the SLS' long, low nose is entirely appropriate: there's a howitzer of a V-8 underneath, an all-AMG unit displacing 6.3 liters and firing off 571 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It's one of the great motoring thrills of our time, listening to the powerplant grunt, sizzle and overrun its way through tunnels. The SLS' massive rear wheels accept all the power through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that's grown much more responsive in the two years since we first drove an SLS gullwing, too. One thing that hasn't changed much: even with three-mode adjustable shocks now available, the SLS sticks like a rubber eraser on a rubber desk pad, almost impossible to dislodge unless all the safeguards are switched off. Then it's quick to oversteer--or, on the brighter side, easier to nudge around corners with the throttle, a useful trait since the long, heavy SLS can't exactly be called nimble. If you're going to explore those limits, for sure, you'll want the optional carbon-ceramic brakes, touchy in everyday driving, but fadeless on repeat laps of Laguna Seca.
The SLS doesn't afford much room for passengers, with most of its space occupied by that husky AMG engine and transaxle. Leg room is short, head room scant, and the gullwing cars can be difficult to climb in and out of, with their tall sills and extravagant doors. The trunk's small, but doesn't lose much in roadster form to the coupe. And where's our custom-fitted luggage?
You'll have to settle for a big dollop of luxury that's just a bit shy of the stuff bundled into a CL-Class. The SLS AMG has COMAND infotainment controls, Bluetooth, a navigation system, and a new Performance Media system that turns your driving history into a real-time graphic display, accessible through the AMG button on the console.
It's a kitschy hook, but an effective one. It telegraphs just how serious Mercedes is in pursuing the other supercars, in status and in speed. A 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 197 mph are two ways of doing that; being the only real successor to the Gullwing on earth, quite another.For more, see our first drive of the 2012 SLS AMG Roadster here at MotorAuthority, and the full review of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMGat TheCarConnection.