Mercedes SLS Roadster Review

By: Glenn Butler

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Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster
Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster
Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster
Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster

Mercedes SLS Roadster. Does clipping its wings actually make the SLS AMG better?

Mercedes SLS Roadster Review
Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster

 

Mercedes SLS Roadster

Check this: I'm driving the golden streets of Monaco, the world's richest city, surrounded by The Beautiful People dripping with Breitlings and Rolexes and dressed to the Coco Chanels in clothes that cost a small hatchback to buy.

And they're all gawking at me.

 You've seen the picture above so you know why. The SLS AMG Roadster is stunning, regardless of whether you like its styling. It has a commanding presence that is magnetism for the eyeballs. People are captivated by its enormous bonnet, its way-back cabin and its muscular rump. Roof up or down, this drop-top is a jaw-dropper.

It's the sound they hear first: 6.2 litres of animalistic V8 that thunders like the start line at Bathurst, and packs a punch that'd make Mike Tyson cower. AMG claims 0-100km/h in 3.9sec, and my first drive revealed nothing to make me doubt its 420kW V8 and 7-speed transaxle are capable of that, especially with 305mm-wide, 20-inch rear tyres.

Full noise in a tunnel, the SLS Roadster drowns out the childish screams of glee coming from the driver. On overrun, it's like the front line in Afghanistan, or roadside at a WRC stage - snarling and spitting, machine-gun malevolence that encourages you to tap-dance on the accelerator. Full throttle then back off, time and again.

On the serpentine Col Du Turini stage of the Monte Carlo rally in the French Alps, the SLS Roadster is a nimble missile. It's only 40kg heavier than the 1620kg coupe - new doors and crossbraces front and rear compensate structurally for the lost roof. There's real front-end feel because the V8 is mounted low behind the front axle. It turns deftly and changes direction easily like a 911 - handling like a smaller and lighter sports car. It's testament to how good AMG can be when handed a clean sheet.

The drivetrain is brilliant. Docile and demure in 'C' for comfort, sharper and responsive in 'S' and lightning quick to react in 'S+', though perhaps too sharp in that last mode on lumpen roads as your foot bounces on the accelerator. Same goes for the three-mode suspension, which has been tuned for comfort first, sporty driving second and racetracks in the ultimate S+ mode.

What's not to like about the SLS AMG Roadster? For starters, the $487,500 price tag when it lands locally in March 2012. But for extroverted multi-millionaires after a convertible supercar that not only goes, stops and handles like a supercar but absolutely nails the 'theatre' of a supercar, there is none better than this.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster

 

ENGINE: 6208cc V8, DOHC, 32v

POWER: 420kW @ 6800rpm

TORQUE: 650Nm @ 4750rpm

WEIGHT: 1660kg

GEARBOX: 7-speed dual-clutch

0-100KM/H: 3.8sec (claimed)

TOP SPEED:  317km/h (claimed)

PRICE: $487,500

 

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