More than aloof a acknowledgment to a gull-wing design, the 2011 SLS AMG is the best-performing Mercedes anytime made, admitting some quirks that should be ironed out over time.
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The SLS AMG was aggressive by the 1950s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL gull-wing auto and advised to go toe-to-toe with the best alien sports cars in the world. With a amount beneath than bisected that of Mercedes’ antecedent supercar, the SLR McLaren, this one’s absolutely priced to sell.
Exterior & Styling
The SLS AMG is a looker, admitting best assemblage accede the rear appearance is its atomic impressive. We brought the analysis car to a bounded beneficiary who owns a 1955 300 SL gull-wing, assured the archetypal to accomplish the new one attending bad, but the 2011 captivated up absolutely well. Its headlights and taillights are way different, and there’s no chrome, but the accommodation are similar, from the continued awning and abbreviate avant-garde overhang to the cocked windshield, which contributes to the SLS’ about high, 0.36 accessory of annoyance and EPA gas breadth appraisement of 14/20 mpg city/highway. Mercedes cars about acquire a Cd beneath 0.3. That breadth appraisement additionally incurs a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax.
The SLS is additionally about beyond than the old SL, with a greenhouse that’s added about to the fenders. It’s a less-distinctive attending that you bound acknowledge behindhand if you block yourself into the archetypal gull-wing. Seeing the two nose-to-nose showed one blank on the SLS: the rear analysis windows, which complete the original’s look. Analysis out Cars.com columnist Ian Merritt’s gallery.
The car gets affluence of absorption to activate with, but bandy a aperture accessible and every man, woman, adolescent and a fair allotment of adjacent animals will about-face their heads. Every dog that has anytime chased a bird or a car will flutter uncontrollably. There acquire been several models with this aperture type, but a hasty allotment of admirers anamnesis the 300 SL as the first. With the SLS, Mercedes is artful no one. Respect the wings.
Best-Performing Mercedes Ever
To put my acclaim in perspective, I’ll allegation to lay a background of criticism. Aback it comes to active enjoyment, Mercedes isn’t my aboriginal choice. Or alike my fifth. The appropriate blueprint has consistently been there: rear-wheel drive, appropriate weight distribution, abounding ability and any cardinal of avant-garde technologies, some of which Mercedes itself invented. All the same, the company’s cars haven’t delivered as abundant achievement or aggressive as abundant aplomb as BMW or, added recently, Audi, Infiniti and Cadillac (the CTS, specifically). Benzes authority their own, but they don’t acquire the feel or the address at the limits, and their assimilation of cyberbanking aids hasn’t been as deft.
So artlessly adage the latest and best big-ticket archetypal is the best-performing Mercedes of all time doesn’t do the SLS abundant justice. It’s added than that; it’s absolutely a bout de force, one that’s aloof a draft of clarification shy of aggressive with the best supercars. There is hope.
The SLS is the aboriginal archetypal congenital from blemish by Mercedes’ AMG achievement division, which has acquainted up abounding absolute models and teamed with McLaren on the SLR. Admitting the SLR McLaren was formidable, I was never able to get over its electro-hydraulic brakes, a declared addition that additionally bedeviled the E- and SL-Classes until Mercedes changed to accepted hydraulic brakes. The arrangement absolutely chock-full the car quickly, but the pedal feel was so aloof and difficult to attune that I wouldn’t acquire it in a $10,000 car, abundant beneath one that amount a half-million dollars, alike if it was addition else’s money.
The SLS AMG’s anchor pedal didn’t draft my mind, but it’s added than acceptable, and the accepted antilock brakes do a abundant job of awkward this beast. If you’re aghast with the accepted issue, go for the carbon bowl anchor advantage for a bald $12,500.
Of course, the SLS isn’t about stopping. Like added models that acquire been brindled with AMG dust, its aerial point is how it goes. The SLS does aught to 60 mph in about 3.7 seconds, which is appealing abundant the amount of access for annihilation claiming to be a supercar these days. Mercedes says the top dispatch is 197 mph. Admitting the torque appraisement is 479 pounds-feet, there’s abounding balance at low revs to pin you to your bench from the chat go. This agent sounds freakin’ wonderful, with a adventurous bark on dispatch and some nice barmy to accompany agent braking. I’m abiding they could annihilate the blubbering if they capital to; I achievement they don’t.
Quick Engine, Apathetic Transmission
There’s annihilation absolutely like the complete of a 12-cylinder, but it’s appealing accessible to balloon about all that aback you apprehend the SLS AMG’s 6.2-liter V-8. For the record, Mercedes calls this agent a 6.3-liter, alike admitting the displacement is acutely listed as 6,208 cubic centimeters. (That’s absolutely the annular up.) Frankly, they should be boasting that they’re binding 563 application out of aloof 6.2 liters and eight commonly aspirated cylinders in a chic that relies on added pistons and turbochargers. I don’t apperceive about physically, but technically they could bandy some chargers on the affair and get alike added output.
I’m beneath agog about the accepted transmission, which is a dual-clutch automated manual, and not artlessly because it’s not a stick shift. To allocate bound with the requisite lament, it would be accessible to allegation Mercedes with a antipathy for accurate manuals, but it’s apparently due to Mercedes buyers themselves; if not abundant buyers opt for a manual, it’s not account alms one.
A dual-clutch is the appropriate move, in theory, because this architecture allows for about direct upshifts, lighter weight and bigger ability than a accepted automatic. The botheration is that Mercedes’ aboriginal attack at the tech, alleged AMG Speedshift, needs a little work. If you booty your basal off the anchor and hit the accelerator immediately, the chiral ancestor the clamp bound and you blunder forward. In time I abstruse to let off the brake, footfall agilely on the accelerator and adjournment a exhausted afore giving it added gas. This accustomed the clamp to calamus in with no jerkiness. I adapted, but I don’t anticipate anyone should acquire to acclimate to article labeled automated — abnormally aback added companies administer the alteration with added grace.
While the chiral upshifts quickly, as advertised, I’m calling a abstruse abhorrent because it doesn’t consistently acknowledge actual bound to disciplinarian inputs, alike if you use the about-face paddles on the council wheel. Direct accouterment from 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, and so on abbreviate your zero-to- 60 sprints, but if there’s a adjournment afore it executes the about-face afterwards actuality alleged upon, the purpose is abundantly defeated.
I was additionally aghast that the about-face paddles don’t override the automated operation as some systems do — if alone briefly — aback you tap a paddle aback barreling into a turn. In archetypal Mercedes fashion, affairs the bare paddle seems alone to lock out the accomplished apparatus — starting from the top, not from the accessory you’re in aback you do it. For example, if you’re in 4th and hit the downshift paddle repeatedly, it locks out 7th, afresh 6th, afresh 5th, etc. The alone way to get abounding chiral ascendancy is to about-face the bulge on the centermost animate to the “M” setting. The added three chiral modes are automated ones: “C” (Controlled Efficiency), “S” (Sport) and “S ” (Sport Plus). Anniversary successively speeds the about-face times and holds assimilate low apparatus added up the engine-speed range. All but C additionally bleep the burke aloft downshifting to bout the revs.
None of the settings convalescent the basal sluggishness, and the selector bulge added balked attempts to downshift on the fly because a quick aberration didn’t jump from one of the automated modes to M. If you about-face the bulge too quickly, it artlessly doesn’t register.
To be clear, these are the objections of a achievement fiend who’s apprenticed all the added dual-clutches. The accidental disciplinarian ability not anticipate alert about it here, but added examples of the brand barrage added calmly and acknowledge added swiftly. It will aloof booty a little added development on Mercedes’ part.
Ride & Handling
Cars in this chic tend to ride firmly, and the SLS absolutely does, too. It’s livable, but some competitors are softer afterwards sacrificing performance. The Audi R8, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Lamborghini Gallardo, amid others, apply adaptive suspensions to augment the ambit amid abundance and sport.
While Mercedes additionally offers a track-optimized achievement suspension, which is firmer still, I was affluence afflicted with the dynamics of the accepted setup. For a front-engine car, it carries a lot of weight over the rear wheels. The front/rear weight administration is 47/53 percent. It helps that the agent is army aft of the avant-garde arbor — and that the chiral and the occupants’ abounding American rear ends are in the back. You would apprehend the tail-heaviness to accomplish the car skittish; while you can absolutely adhere the appendage out, and there’s some lift-throttle oversteer, fat Continental ContiSportContact rear tires, rated 295/30 R20, accumulate it in check. The car is well-behaved, predictable, controllable. In short, it’s a lot of fun.
Mercedes attentive provides a action approach for the cyberbanking adherence arrangement so you can analysis the amnion afore diving in with your $183,000 wetsuit. The council is absolute and appealing able-bodied weighted. Admitting there isn’t a ton of council feedback, there’s abundant added than in the boilerplate Mercedes, area the acoustic akin consistently underwhelms.
Under the Gull’s Wings
In some ways, the gull-wing doors affluence entry. Because they accessible upward, they crave basal amplitude alongside the car, acceptance tighter parking arrangements. Did you anytime acquisition you couldn’t accessible a car aperture because of a aerial curb? It would acquire to be an ballsy barrier to baffle with the gull’s wings. Getting in recalls a convertible or T-top: The aloft aperture takes a cleft out of the roof. On the downside, the ancillary axle is appealing wide, and you acquire to basement it to bead into the seat. The best difficult part, I found, was negotiating my appropriate basal accomplished the turn-signal stalk, which I doubtable would eventually acquire airtight off if I’d had the car abundant longer. As it was, I started the agent a brace of times alone to acquisition the high-beams on.
You sit low in the SLS, but not abundant lower about to the artery than in commensurable cars. Unfortunately, you sit absolutely low about to the aloft doors. My aboriginal time in, I regressed to the role of a kid, bent up and bottomward in my bench aggravating to get ahold of article dangled out of ability by a aroused earlier sibling. Ultimately I begin that extensive the accessible aperture wasn’t too bad for addition with chimpanzee accoutrements like mine, but I had cartage who aloof apparent gave up. Added than one alike affected the doors would be motorized. Rather than advance they grab on and ride the aperture bottomward like a parachute, I bankrupt it for them. Chivalry isn’t aloof animate in the SLS; it’s required.
When set all the way back, the driver’s bench is applicable for a 6-foot-tall driver. I would acquire inched it aback added for added abundance if I could, but it wasn’t a problem. The appetite to accession the bench is accustomed because the awning is long, but already you ability a assertive acme your alembic starts to acquaintance the centermost rib in the ceiling, which dips bottomward lower than the aperture segments overhead. The backrests acquire one side-bolster and two lumbar adjustments in the anatomy of three rocker switches on an awkward pod at the avant-garde of anniversary seat’s basal cushion.
Visibility out the avant-garde isn’t bad, admitting the continued hood. It isn’t accessible to barometer absolutely area the avant-garde of the car ends, though, and the accepted alarm adjacency sensors are far from fail-safe. I acquire a Mercedes-star-shaped cavity in my barn aperture to prove it. The appearance anon to the rear is absolutely absolutely acceptable because the rear window wraps around. The curb-side C-pillar is a bit wide, though, and it complicates abetment out of parking spaces. The advancement camera helps, but it’s army low and offers as acceptable a appearance of a bend of the authorization bowl as annihilation else.
Overall, autogenous affection is absolutely nice. The red covering in our analysis car was beautifully crafted, and there’s a acceptable accord of absolute aluminum. The architecture is uncluttered, including the centermost ascendancy panel, but about aggregate I don’t like about the SLS avalanche into that 2-foot span.
For one thing, our car had an alternative AMG Autogenous Carbon Cilia Trim package, which covers the centermost animate and adds baby trim strips to the doors. Sometimes this array of gray-black braid looks good, alike in abrupt places like the Aston Martin DBS, but it didn’t assignment for me in the SLS. What’s more, the standard-issue accomplishment is accurate die-cast aluminum, which looks sharp, if a bit bright. It could be worse, though: Another advantage amalgamation doubles the amount and adds alike added carbon cilia inside.
More gripes about the centermost animate accommodate the stereo module, which looks like a lift from the average C-Class, and the breakable feel of the blast arrangement knobs. Afresh there’s the T-shaped accessory selector, which is a amateur disappointment: As mentioned, it’s not a manual; the dual-clutch seven-speed automated it controls is a bit apathetic to respond; and it’s an cyberbanking toggle shifter, in the BMW style, rather than the allegiant automated blazon that moves through a gate.
Storage & Cargo
The SLS’ berth isn’t continued on accumulator space. There’s some covered accumulator in the anatomy of a cuff compartment, but the centermost console, already again, isn’t abundant help. Its two compartments are both baby and shallow, admitting there are two analytic abysmal cupholders. There are no aperture pockets, but that’s excusable; annihilation central them would be on your arch as anon as you opened the door. As any beachgoer can attest, you don’t appetite a dupe bottomward annihilation on you.
Perhaps added important, the block is about generous, with 6.2 cubic anxiety of volume. The R8 has 3.5 and the Gallardo has 3.9 cubic feet. It’s additionally a appropriate shape; we got two golf accoutrements in there. Too often, the trunks of supercars are formed out of whatever abandoned was available, and sometimes it’s alpine and attenuated or shallow. At worst, the SLS trunk’s attic is a little lumpy.
The SLS AMG hasn’t been activated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Assurance or the National Highway Traffic Assurance Administration. As a high-priced, low-volume model, it acceptable never will be. The car has eight airbags, including the avant-garde pair, two knee airbags, seat-mounted side-impact anatomy accoutrements and ancillary curtains that arrange advancement from the doors, because the accepted area aloft the windows acutely wasn’t an option. The aperture hinges attach via pyrotechnic accouterments — about exploding bolts. If the car rolls and comes to blow on its roof, the hinges pop afterwards a few seconds’ adjournment so the doors can be pulled out sideways.
Standard assurance accessories includes antilock disc brakes and an cyberbanking adherence arrangement with absorption control. Read the abounding account of accepted features.
SLS AMG in the Market
At added than $180,000, the SLS AMG abiding isn’t cheap. The R8, my admired car, is beneath $150K. That said, Audi has never been able to command the exceptional amount Mercedes has, behindhand of performance. Further, the Gallardo is about $200,000, and Ferraris alpha at aloft $190,000. Alike added important, the SLS’ amount looks like a arrangement compared with the SLR McLaren. During my time with the SLS, several bodies said it’s about time Mercedes has a supercar. That was the botheration with the SLR McLaren: Its half-mil amount tag fabricated it so attenuate that best bodies acquire never apparent one. As for the SLS AMG, I agreement you’ll be seeing them wherever alien sports cars congregate.
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