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The gull has landed

autos Updated: May 20, 2010 01:02 IST
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Long stretches of sweeping corners, tight twisting bits and even patches of poorly laid roads — the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG fly over everything. The 6.2-litre AMG motor under the hood has massive lung capacity and staggering performance is expected.

The SLS comes with a serious chip on its shoulder and it has to prove itself here, on Mexico’s historic Route 190. This route was part of the legendary Carrera Panamericana road race where Merc’s famous 300SL earned a formidable reputation in 1952. So it’s no surprise that Merc sought to re-create that magic here with its SLS, a reincarnation of the 300SL gullwing.

Fast and furious

The SLS simply looks fast. The nose just keeps stretching backwards, like some land speed-record machine. The cockpit is a squat-looking protrusion and the rear is short, simple and rounded with overtones of the old 300SL. There’s a bit of GT-R here, some retro bit there and some mismatch with the large grille as well. The gullwings open with a whoosh and the eyes of bystanders all but jump out of their sockets as the doors complete their graceful ascent.

Hopping into the SLS is a bit awkward. One has to stretch up and out to pull the doors shut from their open position. An electric door close was an option, but was struck straight off the spec list since it weighed 10 kg. AMG’s team working on this supercar project was so intent on getting the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive supercar format right that the gullwing doors were added almost as an afterthought!

The potent 6.2-litre V8 engine is likely to change all that. In its most basic form, this is the same unit that does duty in the Mercedes-Benz C63, right upto the SL 63 AMG. The engine’s exhaust has minimal possible restriction to boost the engine power by 46 bhp.


The V8 motor cruises effortlessly at 120 kph in seventh gear. From standstill — with the right foot all the way down — a total of 563 horses charge ahead to attain triple-digit speeds in a flash. With a company-claimed top speed of 317 kph, the SLS is certainly no slouch. The run from 0–100 kph is dusted off in a mere 3.8 seconds. The accompanying roar from the exhaust is a result of months of fine-tuning. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission boasts of shift time of under 100 milliseconds in the quickest M-mode.

Different modes

If you count the time from when you tap the right paddle to the actual shift, it isn’t very long, but it’s just long enough to dampen the otherwise enjoyable proceedings.

Fun in the SLS comes easy. The double wishbone setup all around and a low centre of gravity enable the car to charge around corners quickly.

The SLS AMG is a fine machine. It’s just that it’s a little too hard-edged to be a GT, yet not quite enough to be an all-out supercar.

What’s clear is that those gullwing doors are sure to get you plenty of attention every time you open them, making the Rs 2 crore price-tag somewhat worth it.

— Autocar India