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Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG roadster 2012 review

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I could tell you how fast this car is. I could tell you how loud and brash it is. I could tell you how outrageously expensive it is. But there's so much more to the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster than this. It's one of those rare cars that is more than the sum total of its parts. There's an aura, a certain mystique about it that elevates the SLS to the very top of the supercar wish list. It's enough to leave a grown man weak in the knees. One thing's for sure, it's a better looker than the Gullwing. I tell you ... you'd mortgage the house to own a car like this.

The noise 

It has a deep, guttural booming engine note, that is even more apparent in the roadster without any roof to mask it. For this reason alone, you'd leave the top down, even in the dead of winter. Start it up, rev it a couple of times and heads whip around up to half a kilometre away. Off throttle it pops, and crackles and carries on just like an F1 racer, blipping the throttle for you on downchanges.

Engine 

It's the same naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 engine as the Gullwing, mid-mounted with 420kW of power and 650Nm of torque. It's essentially the same engine as the C63 AMG, but with about 120 different parts and a much higher power output (the C is good for 336kW and 600Nm). These two cars are the last models to employ this engine. When they move to the next generation models we'll see a switch to the turbocharged 5.5-litre V8.

Performance 

Withering. 0-100km/k takes a blistering 3.8 seconds and it has a top speed of 317km/h. There's no difference between the way the coupe and the roadster go, although the roadster weighs another 40kg.

The drive 

In a word  stunning. It's incredibly broad and muscular, filling the road with its riveting road presence. Punch the accelerator and thing roars to life, cannoning forward with a power and grace bellying its 1660kg.

History 

The original Gullwing dates back to the 1950s. It's one of the most celebrated cars in motoring history. There was a four cylinder version the 190 SL and six cylinder version the 300 SL. When you put the two side by side you can see where the designers of the modern car drew their inspiration, particularly the side vents or "gills" with their twin slashes of chrome.

Restored 

We had a chat with the owner of a beautiful, blue restored 1960 190 SL. Victorian Murray Allen has owned the car 10 years and has spent eight of those years slavishly restoring the car to concourse condition. He wouldn't say how much this show car owes him, but you;d have to guess that it's a bloody lot. What is it about these cars that attract people like Murray? When you pull them apart, it's the high level of engineering set them apart. "There's a bit more guts to them than most other cars,'' he said.

Cost 

Wait for it. $487,500 before onroads, $17,000 more than the Gullwing, but it gets plenty of extra kit thrown in. You can open and close the roof up to a speed of 50km/h. Vision with the roof up is a bit challenged, so Benz has added a reversing camera and blind spot awareness system as standard. The blind spot system flashes and buzzes a warning in your exterior mirror if there is a car near you. It's also thrown in $8000 worth of leather upholstery but that still leaves room for plenty of options, taking it well over the half million mark ... but for the cost of ceramic brakes you could buy one of Benz's new B-Class runarounds.

How many?

Benz has sold 75 Gullwings so far in Australia so far and is holding 10 orders for the roadster. Five of the Gullwings are going straight into storage and two of the orders for the roadster are from existing Gullwing owners. The car comes complete with a cover and trickle charge battery kit as standard to assist in storage.

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
SLS AMG 6.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO No recent listings 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS-Class 2012 SLS AMG Pricing and Specs
SLS AMG 6.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO No recent listings 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS-Class 2012 SLS AMG Pricing and Specs
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