First Drive: 2011 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

Despite its ability to perform imperceptible full-throttle upshifts, you also get the sense that the transmission is the weak point of the SLS. AMG engineers warned that our pre-production prototypes were running transmission software that was a full release generation behind the cars that will make their way to Mercedes showrooms. The gearbox's numerous issues (slow response, reluctance to downshift, occasional harsh shifts) will be completely resolved, they've promised.

Or perhaps the transmission is just afraid of the beast under the hood-like in every other application, the AMG V-8 is the Tasmanian Devil of the automotive industry; snarling, popping, and barking while spinning up dust clouds and terrorizing anyone within earshot. The significant old-school, big-block mechanical cacophony coming through the firewall is no match for the guttural basso profundo exploding from the exhaust pipes-never melodic, only satanic, and more impressive by virtue of volume rather than pitch. This unbelievable acoustic performance will be a tough thing to forego when an all-electric version of the SLS debuts in 2013, but it'll certainly be a reason to buy the roadster version, which we expect to see even before that.

The roadster won't have the gullwing doors, though. And for that reason, it'll never be as special. We love the way the SLS drives, we respect its potential for speed, and we admire its handling. We don't love its styling. But that doesn't matter -- the combination of a Mercedes badge and gullwing doors means that we're looking at a car that is given an instant, emeritus entry in automotive history books right next to the 300SL Gullwing. After all, ain't nuthin' mean nuthin' when you've got gullwing doors.

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I thought the new Ferrari 458 had the highest hp of a normally aspirated V8@570hp.
Not quite sure why a person would put his or her seatbelt on before closing door, even in a regular car. And I'm not sure why anyone would expect this car to be anything but claustrophobic; it might be the same size as the C-Class but half the car is the engine!

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