We aimed for Karlsruhe on the A5 autobahn, which typically is 150-mph-plus terrain-but not today. Road construction, speed limits, and congestion slowed us down to 100 mph most of the way. Only twice was there an opportunity to knock on 150 mph, and we never saw the LFA's claimed 202-mph top speed, nor the 197 mph the SLS is reportedly capable of reaching. But having driven both vehicles on prior occasions, I know that the Lexus takes a little longer than the Mercedes to reach its terminal velocity. We can also confirm that the Benz's displacement advantage -- 6.2 liters versus 4.8 liters-and its 479 lb-ft of torque versus the LFA's 354 lb-ft give the German contender a noticeable edge when it comes to midrange acceleration. This impression is reflected by the torque peaks, which occur at a lofty 6800 rpm in the LFA and 4750 rpm in its rival.
Without question, Lexus's V-10 needs to be revved much harder than the AMG V-8 to deliver, which takes some getting used to. Even at a yelling 6000 rpm, you're only two-thirds of the way to the LFA's rev limiter, and the inferno becomes more intense with every incremental 1000 rpm. The AMG V-8 is redlined at 7200 rpm, but the last few hundred revs seem to do more for your ears than for forward progress.
Although the winding roads through the Odenwald are pure bliss for committed drivers, the speed on the best bits is restricted either by law or by heavy traffic. In this roller-coaster habitat, where tight radii and narrow blacktop prevail, the Lexus benefits from its more compact dimensions and lighter weight. The Mercedes is not only a touch wider and a substantial 5.2 inches longer, it also has a phallic snout that positions the driver farther back in the aluminum spaceframe cradle. In the carbon-fiber Lexus, you sit between the axles and are thus closer to the front wheels, which supports the butt-to-brain interface. The front/rear weight distribution is almost identical: 48/52 percent in the Lexus, 47/53 in the SLS.
In our tests, these two supercars are separated by one-tenth of a second in the 0-to-60-mph sprint, where red eclipses white by completing the task in 3.8 versus 3.9 seconds. In actuality, it's all down to tire wear, tire temperature, surface quality, and launch success. Both vehicles must shift once before they exceed the 60-mph mark, and even after a dozen or so full-throttle side-by-side sprints, the results were pretty much a dead heat.