The Mercedes SLS AMG
Mercedes-Benz has a new super car called the SLS AMG. With starting prices of around one hundred and eighty thousand dollars it is priced to directly compete with the likes of Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin. Aside from all the usual performance comparisons there is one thing this car has that the others do not – the gull-wing Mercedes is back. Entertainment: well, there is a 6.2 liter engine in the front providing a rumble to match anything to come out of Detroit. With over five hundred and fifty horsepower the SLS would be an entertaining drive even if the handling was poor. Fortunately that is not the case. It’s agile, poised and although its feels quite stiff on the road the combination of engine of handling provides a fantastic drive.
In term of practicality the car is a bit of a mixed bag. Mercedes have obviously considered how this car is going to be used and the SLS comes with typical features to provide everyday usability like sat-nav and a decent stereo. However the gull wings, as iconic as they are, make it a pain to get in and out of the car, make the car very wide and you really have to stretch to pull the doors down once your inside. The design also means headroom is fairly tight as well.
The gearbox is a double clutched affair which works really well. There is a slight delay when you flick the paddles but overall it feels very sharp and responsive. The car is very obviously rear wheel drive. The seating position is very back and harks back to honest, old school GT’s and combined with the sharp steering you have total faith in where the front of the car is going to go. This car can go round corners really, really fast – if you tried hard enough you could probably keep up with a four-wheel drive 911 Turbo. It is also blazingly fast in a straight line – very impressive for a heavy, front engined Grand Tourer.
Looking at value for money – can any car at this price be considered reasonable value? Probably not but put alongside its peers it is competitively priced. Let’s look at it another way – against the Mercedes McLaren SLR, the SLS is quicker, handles better and is less expensive to the tune of almost two hundred thousand dollars. So, the SLS is a loud and raucous affair dominated by the enormous powerhouse of an engine – yet at the same time civilized by the usual high standard of refinement and usability that you would expect from a Mercedes-Benz.