The all-new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar gets a solid Total Car Score.
The SLS is not a re-working of an existing Mercedes-Benz -- as other AMG products are -- but the first original offering from Mercedes-Benz's performance division.
Well, kind of original. The long nose and short tail are almost requisite proportions for a sports machine. And the upward-opening "gullwing" doors are a direct homage to the legendary SLR of the 1950s.
Moving further forward in time, the engine is a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 at a time when other AMG cars are being powered by a smaller, turbocharged unit. It also offers an old-fashioned growl and even pops through the exhaust system a little when quickly lifting off the throttle. However, an aluminum chassis and a carbon fiber driveshaft validate it as a fully modernized supercar.
Reviews tend to mention that this is a sports car that also does luxury rather than a luxurious car with a sporty edge. The ride is suitably taut, but not uncomfortably so; the car has a fine balance and poise in corners; acceleration is fast enough to sprint from standstill to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds before hitting an electronically limited top speed of 196 mph.
Not quite so quick, according to the reviews, is the shift action of the seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual (no clutch pedal; just leave it in D or operate the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters). It seems 100 milliseconds is too long for some.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is an all-new model, but a convertible version (featuring traditional, front-hinged doors) will join the coupe next year.
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a two-seater, rear-drive coupe with gullwing doors.
Its 6.2-liter V8 develops 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. This is coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that may be operated with steering wheel-mounted paddles.
The amount of standard equipment is quite generous: an adjustable suspension, a limited-slip differential, a navigation system, parking sensors, a reverse camera, leather interior materials, heated seats and 19-inch alloy wheels up front with 20-inchers at the rear. There's also a multi-mode traction and stability control system, and the SLS counts eight airbags among its standard-issue safety equipment.
Carbon-ceramic brake rotors are an option, as is a Bang & Olufsen audio system, a carbon fiber kit for the engine surround, cabin and the side mirrors, a more track-focused suspension, plus even lighter alloy wheels.
Estimates from the EPA put the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS's fuel consumption at 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined.
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