Merc AMG SLS gullwing

Discussion in 'Other Vehicles' started by Steve, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Steve

    Steve Administrator
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    Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG gullwing supercar review

    By Erin Baker
    Published: 12:00PM GMT 06 Nov 2009 (telegraph.co.uk)

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    The corkscrew at Laguna Seca raceway in California is a short but terrifying section of the circuit that drops sharply away from sight and tumbles to the left then right. It will be familiar to MotoGP fans: watching bikes dive and tip into it before catapulting their riders upright and down the other way takes spectators' breath away.

    A great way, then, to test the handling of the new supercar from Mercedes AMG: the gullwing SLS AMG.

    Three laps spent trying to keep up with former DTM touring car champion Bernd Schneider were hardly a necessary part of the car's launch, however: the first supercar to be designed and built from scratch by master German tuner AMG was never going to be a donkey on the track.

    Plus, you can probably count on one hand the number of SLS customers who are going to spread their gullwings on a circuit. Serious racers will wait for the mooted Black Series track version (to be confirmed), or at least pay extra for a different suspension set-up and ceramic composite brakes.

    No, SLS AMG buyers are the same people who buy every other supercar these days: collectors, boulevard cruisers, Merrill Lynch bankers and fun seekers, and for them, hundreds of test miles on the pitching, twisting, redwood-lined Pacific roads of Big Sur provided an ample litmus test.

    Mercedes AMG is marketing the SLS as a "super sports car", ie with emphasis on sports, not the super part, although a price of £150,000 spells supercar territory to most mortals. The SLS is, the company claims, with characteristic Teutonic understatement, "nothing short of a masterpiece by Mercedes-AMG Gmbh". Not quite, but it's a charming car. It tugs on the nostalgia heartstrings with its cleverly modern interpretation of the classic 300SL gullwing of the 1950s. Grace Kelly, here we all come.

    That memorable profile, with the two doors arched up above the roofline, doesn't stop surprising and delighting passers-by. The wide radiator grille, with its huge Mercedes star and the fins on the bonnet, are strongly reminiscent of the original. The overall design is slightly Marmite-ish, though: I tried to love the combination of long bonnet, small headlights, high cabin and fat rear, and just couldn't.

    The interior design also left me cold, with its very simple leather-clad dash and familiar black plastic Mercedes switchgear; I longed for a bit of Aston elegance or Maserati finesse but although the leather is beautifully turned and stitched, it's, well, dull.

    Silly as it sounds, however, the doors provide nearly all the drama you need. The handle is situated low down – pull it and the door rises easily and lightly above your head, although you still have to duck under it. Step into the car, however, and unless you're taller than 5ft 10in, you'll have to pull the door down with you as you sit in, because the handle sits too high to reach once inside.

    Mercedes swears that with the doors open, the car fits inside most normal garages, and they only add 39cm to the width when open. Detractors are always quick to point out the downside of gullwings or scissor doors: how do you get out if the car flips onto its roof in an accident? Well, in the SLS AMG, after 10 seconds of being upside down pyrotechnics automatically explode the hinges so you can push the doors away... cue Michael Caine jokes about blowing the bloody doors off.

    This being an AMG baby, the real explosion happens when you press the starter button. What an awesome sound that front-mounted V8 engine makes; distinct from anything Italian by virtue of a deep, metallic rumble that drums up into a thousand jackhammers thumping the ground as the revs rise. It sounds very mechanical, very precise and very expensive, and there are a thousand variations on the sound when you get going and play around with the throttle and gears.

    This is a serious car, however, with serious performance: 563bhp, 479lb ft of torque, 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds and a limited top speed of 197mph. The acceleration is effortless: in any of the seven gears, at any speed, you get bucketloads of oomph. It's almost too seamless – you reach illegal speeds with no sense of occasion: you just arrive there.

    In "controlled efficiency" mode, it's an easy cruise everywhere, with even some lag between gearchanges from the dual-clutch transmission to make drivers feel they're in a "normal car".

    Switch to the "sport" or "sport plus" setting, however, and the gearchange times shorten, the engine growls and it's no longer a pretty gullwing but a serious sports car with its DTM-inspired carbon-fibre driveshaft, and lightweight all-aluminium chassis and body; with AMG keen to show off its serious pedigree, the SLS has been confirmed as the safety car for Formula One next season.

    There's a convertible version coming in 2011 (obviously not with gullwing doors...) or, if you want to have serious fun and save the environment, Mercedes AMG has set itself the ambitious date of 2013 for a fully electric version with, they assure me, no loss of performance. In fact, you'll get a staggering 649lb ft of torque from standstill. Expect to see electric SLS AMGs disappearing through the ground with wheelspin.

    It might not be a masterpiece, but the SLS AMG offers a staggering number of incarnations to choose from: boulevard cruiser, Fifties recreation, sports car or supercar, with soft-top poser and environmental saviour on the way. The choice is yours.

    THE FACTS

    Price/availability: from £150,000/next June

    Tested: SLS AMG with 7-spd dual-clutch auto

    Power/torque: [email protected],800rpm, 479lb [email protected],750rpm

    Acceleration: 0-62mph in 3.8sec

    Top speed: 197mph (limited)

    Fuel economy (Combined): 18.8mpg

    CO2 emissions: 308g/km

    VED Band: M (£405)

    On the stereo: Hotel California, by The Eagles

    Alternatives: an original Mercedes 300 SL, from £350,000

    Verdict: a supercar for all seasons

    Telegraph rating: four out of five

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  2. Sideways

    Sideways New Member

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    Does anyone else think of the Dodge Viper when they look at this car???
    I think this is a FAIL in automotive design as they have done nothing to make this car look better than the SLR.
    I can appreciate throwback design, but at least draw from the past...dont try to copy it...that is all this car is to me...a bad copy of an automotive ICON.
    Shame on you Mercedes for bastardizing one of your most beautiful designs.
    Thats right...I just said it!
     
  3. Steve

    Steve Administrator
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    Yep, I was going to say it has a little RX-8 in it but Viper is MUCH closer. I think it's better looking than the current Viper, but does have a lot of the same overall shape.

    I like the relatively simple looking interior and I bet the sounds it makes are fantastic...can't wait to hear one.

    I also have a hard time looking at the front of some newer Mercs without flashing on the Cadillac CTS...those angular, three-across lower grille openings and the sharp vertical crease right down the center of some models (E-class for example) in particular...who copied who? This one doesn't have the central crease but it has the same lower grille design and I swear the second impression that flashed on me (after I got past the gull wings) was that Cadillac CTS.
     
  4. PGT

    PGT Wheel Whore

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    Viper from the greenhouse back and S2000 up front. Bleh.
     
  5. Deviant

    Deviant Banned

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    It doesn't look bad and for what it can do I wouldn't kick one out of my garage but the side profile is a bit awkward and the McLaren SLR looked a lot better, modern with design cues hinting at the past where this is retro with design cues hinting at the future.
     
  6. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    It's an almost, almost a great looking car but fails miserably.. While a fan of some long nose cars (see Jaguar mid 60's), this just looks out of balance somehow and the rear end could have been cut off an Acura....and when compared to the Italian effort in another thread, the Germans have laid an egg...:frown2:
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Administrator
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    I have mixed feelings...think I'll reserve judgment on this thing until I get to see one in 3-D...you know, in person. Might also be one of those cars that sort of transforms in certain colors. We'll see.....
     
  8. BlimeyCabrio

    BlimeyCabrio Oscar Goldman of MINIs
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    If any of you h8ers win one in the lottery, kindly send it to me. I will give it a good home.
     
  9. Sideways

    Sideways New Member

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    They can keep the car...I will take the cash instead:lol:
     
  10. minimark

    minimark Well-Known Member

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    :idea: We have a winner!
     
  11. goaljnky

    goaljnky New Member

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    What saddens me the most is that these types of cars are not made for driving. I don't recall where I read it, but somewhere it said that these were slated and have been spoken for by collectors.

    One of my guilty pleasures is watching various car shows on HD. One theme that runs through all the Concourse De Elegance winners is that at one point it was a car that someone bought, or ordered custom because they were either going to drive it, or be driven in it. I certainly do not get that feeling from this one.
     
  12. Deviant

    Deviant Banned

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    Actions like this contributed to the bursting of the Supercar bubble of the late 80s/early 90s. It's impossible to really predict what will be a good investment, sure you can pretty much garuntee that eventually every Ferrari will begin to appreciate in value but having a $250K car become worth $300K 20years later isn't nearly as good an investment as buying a driving a normal everyday car that the becomes worth 3 times it's original value. That's why when I hear people refer to MINIs as a future collectible car I'm pleased, but still drive my car just as much as anyone and can't stand the idea of having a piece of garage jewelry. Cars were meant to be driven, even if only rarely on the weekends, not to sit in a bubble an looked at like a painting.
     
  13. nabeshin

    nabeshin New Member

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    I like it. It just might have too many buttons on the console. Clarkson might mention that when they feature this car on Top Gear.
     

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