THE 2012 MERCEDES-BENZ SLS AMG COUPE REVIEW
Full Review by Andy: Majestic Performance
The stunning Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a rare breed of automobile. Its unique characteristics almost put it in a class of its own. While the 583-horsepower SLS AMG is nothing less than a supercar, its price tag and surprising practicality make it different from many competitors. Aligned closely with the Audi R8 on the automotive marketplace, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe continues on into 2012 as a top contender for luxury-minded, thrill-seeking buyers.
The AMG label plays a major part in the mystique of the coupe. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is the first supercar developed in-house by AMG, a marque originally established under the loquacious moniker, “AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH.”
The SLS AMG is the spiritual successor, resurrected via AMG’s necromancy, to the 300SL Gullwing, one of history’s greatest sports cars. Introduced in 1954, the 300SL was the fastest production car of its time with a top speed of 161 mph. It won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Eifelrennen at the Nurburgring, and other prestigious races.
One of its most stunning features of the newer SLS AMG coupe is its gullwing-style doors that swing directly upward, propelled by gas struts. The aluminum sheet metal is supplied by Magna Steyr, a contractual automotive manufacturer who also developed Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. With its enormous chrome side fins, sloping bonnet, wide-set headlamps, and shapely rear fascia, the SLS is nothing short of iconic.
The SLS’s singular proportions, homage to its forefather, are due to the front mid-mounted engine and rear transaxle that lend the vehicle a 53/47 percent front/rear weight distribution. The coupe uses AMG’s own 6.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8. Expelling the exhaust fumes with a staccato bellow, the M159 churns out power like cannonballs, furrowing the clout through a beefy dual-clutch MCT SpeedShift transmission with downshift rev matching and four modes: C for controlled efficiency, S, S+, and Manual, accomplished via F1-style paddle shifters.
The SLS AMG is renowned for its unique driving experience. Unlike the acrobatic Porsche 911 GT2 RS or Nissan’s Godzilla, the SLS AMG runs like an uncorralled mustang with a feral streak.
The low-set driver’s seat is set close to the center of the vehicle, which creates a pivoting sensation about corners as if the coupe revolves about the driver. Then there is the cornering itself. The SLS AMG is as a tail-happy as a drunk pirate in Tortuga, a supercar with rally car yearnings. To keep oversteer in check, the SLS has three-stage electronic stability control, which can be manually deactivated.
Unlike the 300SL, the SLS AMG is not the fastest production car available. It does, however, have an electronically limited top speed of 197 mph, a number which is unfortunately oft ignored in lieu of other supercars en route to Mach 1. At triple-digit speeds, the SLS AMG exhibits the staunch ride typical of an autobahn-engineered Benz. The official 0-60 mph estimate is 3.7 seconds, a number corroborated by professional drivers. Launch time is abetted by a RACESTART function, and the quarter-mile mark arrives somewhere in the mid-11’s.
Any car with the ability to get air over a speed bump should have a back-up parachute if the brakes go out. The SLS AMG uses cast-iron 15.35/14.17-inch 6-piston/4-piston front/rear grooved and ventilated discs. Using such equipment, the sports coupe can come to a complete stop from 60 mph in under 100 feet, an astonishing performance. Carbon-ceramic brakes, a $12,500 option, are available but probably superfluous.
So concludes AMG’s part in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. The remainder of the coupe is mostly imported from Stuttgart and is of impeccable quality, a trait of which Modena’s and Sant’Agata Bolognese’s competitors are ignorant. With its aviation design scheme, replete with turbine air vents and a T-shaped gear selector, the SLS AMG reeks of racy athleticism from its leather upholstery to its brushed aluminum accents. For an exotic sports car, it is astonishingly comfortable and practical, with 6.2 feet of storage space and an inviting cabin. It comes with a large number of standard features that account for its relatively hefty curb weight, including the COMAND infotainment system, a navigation system, an excellent audio system, and park assist with a rearview camera.
AMG set out to show the world what it could do. What it did was remarkable, a one-of-a-kind re-imagining of Mercedes’ best and a testament to the magic of Affalterbach: the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
Engine: 6.2-liter V8: 563 horsepower @6,800 rpm/479 lb-ft of torque @4,750 rpm
Transmission: seven-speed shiftable semiautomatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 14/20 mpg
0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds
Base MSRP: $189,600
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