2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Don Sherman
Matt Tierney

Unlike Mr. Sherman, I've experienced no gullwing cars, so getting behind the wheel of the SLS AMG was a noteworthy occasion for me. The first thing I noticed, after climbing over the sill and lowering myself into the seat, was that I couldn't reach the door handle to close the door. That meant that I had to move my left leg back over the sill to the pavement and raise myself up in order to reach the handle and lower the door. It was a little awkward, but subsequent entries into the car were a little more graceful as I learned to grab the handle simultaneous to lowering myself into the seat. A power door closer would be a nice touch.

The interior of the SLS is filled with familiar Mercedes switchgear and carbon fiber trim, so the learning curve is definitely not steep for anyone who's driven a Mercedes in the last ten years. Headroom -- even for someone as short as me -- is not generous, thanks to what is apparently some kind of support member located in the center of the roof.

When I first got into the SLS, the transmission was set for "C" for comfort, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn't my preferred setting. When you try to ease away from a stop sign with light pressure on the guess pedal, you barely make forward progress. Then the accelerator hits a certain point and you lurch forward. Better to set it in sport and have more linear power delivery.

Once under way, the 6.2-liter engine makes a great noise. Georg Kacher's description of the exhaust note in the August issue, "all bass not tenor, roaring tiger rather than howling wolf," is accurate - the deep-throated growl really is reminiscent of a big cat. As would be expected with 563 hp and 479 lb-ft or torque, acceleration is blistering. When breaks in freeway traffic offered the appropriate opportunities, quickly running the speedometer up to the triple digits from regular highway cruising speeds seemed to happen almost instantaneously. It's no wonder I took the long way home that day.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

I commend Mercedes and AMG for producing the car they want to build, not just the car the customers want.That being said, there's still too much Gee-Whiz tech here that detracts more than takes away. Rear view cameras are for trucks and rolling artwork that have a mail slot for a rear window. LCD screens and other electronic garbage will prevent cars like this from being appreciated many years from now because replacement parts will be unobtainable. Try to get a new motherboard for your 10 year old computer...same thing. Lastly, real drivers prefer three pedals. Yes, paddle shifters get you around a track the fastest, but if that is your concern, you aren't driving this 3,600 lb sled. I'm waiting for what this company is capable of when they embrace simple engineering, light weight, and the quality standards they set back when the first Gullwings were built.

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