By name and by date, the Mercedes SLS’ predecessor would be the SLR. But the company insists that the SLS was actually more inspired by the 300SL model from 1954. The first thing noticed in the SLS, however, are the doors. There’s also the in house development by tuning firm AMG, the company’s major partner since 1990. This time around, AMG has been given the freedom to design a model on their own and from a clean slate. So how does this car fare in today’s market and how do its features stand out for the target customers?
Both old and new design elements are seamlessly combined in the Mercedes SLS. Although the vehicle takes cues from the 300SL Gullwing, it actually sports a shape appropriate to the current century. No one will mistaken the SLS for being vintage or an old model. Proportions are a major part of the SLS’ aesthetic: the rear set cabin and bonnet are quite large but still within the proper width. Door handles pop out automatically upon unlocking; retracting is the action when it’s for the car to move off. If this is too quick, then the auto release can be deactivated and only triggered via the button on the right.
Alloy wheels measure 20 inches at the rear and 19 inches up front. Three designs are available as choices, with the five-spoke as the cheaper alternative. The seven-spoke comes as a standard, while the 10-spoke comes at the highest price. The main lights are bi-xenon bulbs; LEDs are used for the daylight running lamps and indicators. Foglights, rear lights, and reversing lights also employ LEDs. Overall the design harks back to the Formula 1 look of the SLS as the event’s pace car.
There were hesitations on the SLS using the same engine as the C63, which comes at one-thirds of the luxury car’s cost. But once on third gear, the extra 112bhp of the V8 happened to work for this vehicle’s favor. The lighter weight of the SLS also allows it to drive faster than the C63. It manages to reach 60mph after 3.9 seconds for the coupe, while 100mph can occur after just 8.0 seconds. The speed is great but at the same time easy to drive. The Controlled Efficiency setting balances the seven ratios for low revs and to manage the engine’s power.
Getting into the SLS’ interior is no problem: the doors are quite light thanks to being controlled upwards via a gas strut. Others would prefer electronic assistance, but Mercedes says this would further add to the door weight. The cabin interior is quite compact, offering only enough legroom for steering and adjustment. Headroom is limited on the standard seats, but you can sit lower and increase the space by getting the optional carbon-backed sports seats. The driver’s view is no issue and maintains the company’s reputation for all around visibility. But you could have some trouble looking past the long bonnet and tall sills. Then there’s the out of place silver-effect main dials—they appear off on a vehicle with such a high end price.
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