The Auto Trader expert verdict:
Flagship supercar from Mercedes-Benz's AMG division mixes old-school 'Gullwing' style with very contemporary performance.
Reasons to buy:
- Stunning looks, sensational soundtrack
- Thundering performance
- Surprising usability for a supercar
How good does it look?
Taking the glorious lines of the ground-breaking 300SL ‘Gullwing’ from the 1950s and bringing them right up to date, the Mercedes SLS AMG is an incredibly-striking car. It’s perhaps not as svelte in its looks as the car it pays homage to, but in the metal and on the road it looks absolutely sensational. Those roof-hinged ‘Gullwing’ doors help elevate it from the mere ordinary too, which makes arriving in the SLS a real event. Its long bonnet allows the engine to sit behind the front wheels for excellent weight distribution, and the squat, wide rear reinforces its performance potential.
What's the interior like?
After the exuberance and drama of the exterior, the SLS’s cabin is a little lacking in visual theatre. Certainly it uses fine materials throughout, but given its hefty list price it’s a shame the SLS’s cabin doesn’t feel more bespoke. You’ll find instruments, stalks and switches shared with lesser Mercedes-Benz models. However, details like the chrome vents and fine stitched leatherwork do add some interest. To really lift the interior above the ordinary though you need to get busy with the options list, which means more expense.
How practical is it?
Supercars aren’t really bought with practicalities in mind, but the Mercedes SLS AMG is more practical than most. There’s a decently sized boot and those roof-hinged doors make access relatively easy – once you get used to them. The trade off though is a low roofline, with those over six-foot tall likely to find headroom a little lacking thanks to the door’s opening mechanism. More than most supercars though the SLS AMG is quite at home trickling through town traffic, while visibility is relatively good for such a low-slung high-performance car, too.
What's it like to drive?
It’s fast, but the civility with which the SLS rides and handles is impressive. The suspension soaks up road imperfections well given the size of its wheels and tyres, though it can get a bit fidgety on tougher surfaces. Overall control is good, with roll-free cornering and quick response at the steering wheel. There’s even some welcome feedback: the SLS is the finest steering car in Mercedes-Benz’s line-up. Grip levels are high, and the electronic stability and traction systems help keep things in check and offer various modes of operation to the driver. Strong brakes complete an impressive dynamic package.
How powerful is it?
With 563bhp and 479lb/ft of torque from its 6.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine the SLS is guaranteed to be a rapid car. It’ll reach 62mph in just 3.8 seconds and is limited to 197mph. AMG’s 6.2-litre V8 is a wonderfully flexible engine, but it delivers its very best at high revs. There, it’s shockingly fast, while the noise it makes is nothing short of fantastic. That power goes to the rear wheels via a seven-speed, paddle-shifted automatic gearbox. It’s usually quick to shift, but occasionally it doesn’t respond to driver input and can get a bit jerky in fully-automatic mode.
How much will it cost me?
It’s a supercar, and that means it’ll be expensive to run. Not quite as expensive as other exotic cars perhaps, while Mercedes-Benz dealers are more plentiful than most rivals. Officially, it returns 21.4mpg on average, but knock 4-5mpg off that in everyday driving.
How reliable is it?
Reliability should be excellent, particularly compared to its rivals, which are usually built in smaller numbers. Plentiful dealers mean maintaining the SLS is also easy.
How safe is it?
Switchable traction and stability control systems, big brakes and plentiful airbags should keep you very safe indeed. Those gullwing doors even feature clever exploding hinges should the SLS AMG ever end up on its roof in an accident.
How much equipment do I get?
Consider the SLS’s sticker price as a mere starting point, as a good deal of the equipment you’ll want is extra. Premium audio, sports seats and two-tone leather costs more, as does telephone preparation. Start adding the carbon-fibre trim options and selecting the stunning matte effect paint finishes and you’ll add tens of thousands of pounds to your sales invoice.
Striking looks, thundering performance and an engine note that shakes your soul combine with user friendliness and comfort in the SLS AMG that’s unusual in the supercar world. It’s a stunning example of the genre.