By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
Of the hundreds of cars produced for 2012, only a handful truly stand out as collectables the moment they leave the showroom floor. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe and Roadster are two such cars, infusing styling, technology and heritage to create a mobile work of art destined for a place in automotive history. Mercedes tasked its in-house AMG performance team with reanimating the SLS AMG, and the division has met the task with straight As. The SLS can dash to 60 mph in under four seconds, accelerate to 200 mph and round corners with the best from Ferrari, Audi and Aston Martin. In the 2012 SLS AMG, Mercedes now has a car unique from the ground up, with an emphasis as much on performance as on visual appeal.
If you fancy yourself someone who likes to be part of history as it's being made, you'll love every moment as others see you behind the wheel of the 2012 SLS AMG. Of course, the SLS AMG's performance credentials are equally appealing.
If you're looking for a coupe that's as easy to live with as it is to drive, the SLS AMG's gullwing style is awkward and heavy doors may prove annoying after the novelty wears off.
For 2012, Mercedes-Benz adds a convertible version of the SLS AMG. The roadster loses the gullwing door design, but retains the same thrilling performance in a package that is equally attractive.
Driving Impressions We were halfway expecting a lap or two behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz's 2012 SLS AMG would mimic our time in MB's SL63 AMG roadster, a car that shares...the same engine, but little else. We were wrong. The SLS AMG has a driving experience quintessentially its own, highlighted by the insane quick acceleration from the 6.3-liter V8 beefed up to produce 563 horsepower. Combine this power with the SLS's all-aluminum body and frame and you have the equivalent of taping a bottle rocket to a paper airplane. The equally lightweight aluminum suspension parts are magnificent foot soldiers in the war against g-forces, holding the SLS in the corners while telegraphing precise feedback to the driver via the thick, grippy steering wheel. But, be warned. Even with all its electronic traction control hardware, the SLS's rear end can easily be made to step out, especially when the throttle is engaged or disengaged too quickly.
Mercedes' clever design allows the lightweight SLS top to stow itself in a small, shallow well behind the rear seat, leaving what precious little cargo space the 6.1 cubic-foot trunk has to offer completely intact.
EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT IT, TOO
In the 2012 SLS AMG Coupe and Roadster, Mercedes-Benz has created a completely modern masterpiece endowed with a sense of the classic that, in many ways, only Mercedes-Benz can lay claim to.
The 2012 SLS AMG's interior is standard Mercedes-Benz fare, meaning it's handsome and logical, but not as inspiring as the car's exterior. The highlight of the SLS' interior is its seats, which are supremely comfortable and adorned in rich leathers, bold colors and lots of contrasting French stitching. One's eye can avoid the massive center console that houses the AMG Drive Unit. Placed near the driver's right arm, this panel houses controls for the 3-stage stability control program, suspension settings and AMG Drive modes. A rotary knob at the top of the panel selects modes for the dual-clutch automatic transmission.Exterior
Clearly, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe's gullwing doors are the most talked about exterior feature. Although a novelty, opening and closing the doors requires a wide range of movement, from bending down to open the doors, to stretching up to close them. If this proves bothersome, the new roadster is probably a better fit, with traditional style doors and the added benefit of an open-air cockpit.
Among the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG's more upscale standard features are dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry and start, navigation with COMAND interface and 6-speaker stereo, iPod and auxiliary input jacks, leather seating, Alcantara headliner, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, and power folding side mirrors. Twenty-inch rear wheels and 19-inchers up front are surrounded with performance rubber, while bi-xenon headlights with washers adorn the front. Standard safety equipment includes a 3-setting electronic stability control program and front knee airbags.
SLS options include an AMG adaptive suspension, sport suspension, Bang & Olufsen 1000-watt audio system, carbon-ceramic brakes, and AMG Performance Media (monitors vehicle performance and track data). For the sake of style, you can get carbon-fiber interior trim, 10-spoke forged alloy AMG wheels, and a number of interior design packages and exterior paint options, including a $13,000 AMG hand-painted Alubeam silver paint job.
Power for the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG comes from a 6.2-liter V8 engine, heavily modified by MB's in-house AMG performance masters. Mercedes likes to call this a 6.3-liter engine for PR reasons, but its actual displacement is 6.2-liters, so we're going with fact over fluff. AMG's addition to the hand-built V8 includes a magnesium intake, a carbon-fiber driveshaft, and a dry-sump lubricating system (allows the engine to be mounted lower in the engine bay). The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is mounted to the rear of the car, thus helping maintain a better front-to-rear balance.
563 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
479 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 mpg
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe carries a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just over $192,000, while the roadster sells for around $200,000. Optional equipment can easily add another $50,000 to the SLS' bottom line. To make your best deal, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their Mercedes-Benz supercars. In the world of resale, the 2012 SLS AMG is likely to hold its value well over time, and even possibly appreciate if held long enough.