By KBB.com Editors
The 2013 SLS AMG GT is Mercedes-Benz's answer to what a supercar should be. As the pinnacle performer in the German automaker's lineup, the SLS AMG infuses the provenance of its ancestor the 300SL "Gullwing" with the best of today's engineering and technology. Available as a 2-seat coupe or roadster, the SLS AMG has the power and pedigree to run with the best from Ferrari, Audi and Aston Martin. Under the hood is a big V8 engine that now makes 583 horsepower, while the cabin is flush with the softest leather and the kind of accoutrements that make a Mercedes-Benz, well, a Mercedes-Benz. With its supermodel looks comes a supercar price of around $200,000. Calculated another way, that's roughly $1,000 for each mile per hour attainable in an SLS.
If you crave a supercar that has a serious pedigree and offers plenty of pampering, you'll relish the SLS AMG GT. The amount of attention this car draws and its performance credentials are equally appealing.
The gullwing doors in the coupe model look dazzling to be sure, but in pragmatic terms are rather awkward to use. There's also that little issue of coming up with the $200,000 needed to purchase this car, but if you can afford to spend $200,000 on a car, that sum is probably little indeed.
One might think it difficult to improve upon the grandness that is the SLS, but for 2013 Mercedes-Benz found a way. Most notable is the addition of 20 more horsepower under the hood to raise output to 583 horsepower. In addition to adding "GT" to its name, the 2013 SLS AMG features a recalibrated 7-speed automatic transmission, modified suspension, and darkened headlights and taillights.
Driving Impressions In our first blush with the SLS AMG, we figured it would mimic the experience we had in the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG roadster, which shares the same engine but little...else. Boy, were we wrong. The SLS AMG has a driving experience quintessentially its own. With a 0-60 mph time of just 3.6 seconds in both coupe and roadster form, the SLS's acceleration is ethereal. Implanting the big, 583-horsepower V8 deep within the SLS's aluminum body is akin to taping a bottle rocket to a paper airplane. Meanwhile, the lightweight aluminum suspension holds its own, battling the tremendous g-forces created as the SLS careens around corners. Be forewarned, though: Even with its advanced traction-control systems, the SLS's rear end can easily be made to step out, especially when the throttle is quickly engaged or disengaged. When not hanging on for dear life at Mach 1, we appreciated the SLS's well-padded steering wheel and its plush leather seats. For an even more refined feel (or a sportier one, depending on your mood), you can adjust the suspension settings from "Comfort" to "Sport Plus" with the twist of a dial.
Should the weather turn chilly after you've lowered the roadster's fabric roof – a feat done in a mere 11 seconds – you'll appreciate the Airscarf system. Built into the top of the seats, this standard feature warms occupants by blowing a kiss of warm air around their neck.
EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT IT, TOO
Those looks. That engine. The heritage. As either coupe or roadster, the 2013 SLS AMG GT represents a modern masterpiece with more than a passing nod to its heritage as a car piloted by racers and flaunted by the rich and famous.
Jump into the 2-passenger cockpit of the 2013 SLS AMG GT, and you'll find a cabin much like that of any other Mercedes-Benz. That is to say, it's well-crafted and has a logical layout, but it is not as inspiring as the car's exterior. Still, the interior is awash in soft leather and gleaming metal, and for 2013 receives an injection of red, now the color choice for the seatbelts and stitching. That hue is a reminder of the venom this ultra-luxury car can spit. Mercedes-Benz's familiar 7-inch color screen sits high in the center dash, while its COMAND control dial is directly below a stubby transmission lever. Directly to the left of that lever, things get interesting with five big controls for adjusting suspension, traction control, and starting the car. Press the button simply labeled "AMG," and the display screen will show all manner of vehicle performance information, such as how many g forces it's pulling.Exterior
In coupe form, the most defining feature of the 2013 SLS AMG GT is its upward-opening gullwing doors. Fully expanded, they truly are a sight to behold. Unfortunately, they are not the most practical things in the world. Opening and closing them requires a wide range of movement on the part of the driver and passenger, from bending down to open them to stretching high to close them. If this seems burdensome, consider the SLS roadster, which retains the coupe's long and lean shape but has traditional doors – not to mention a triple-layer fabric roof that quickly retracts for open-air thrills.
As you might guess, features are aplenty on a $200,000 car, not the least of which is the admiration that usually comes with driving a $200,000 car. Among the tangibles you'll gain in the SLS are Mercedes' COMAND system with voice activation and features like navigation and Bluetooth streaming. In addition to storing music files on the hard-disc drive, there's an in-dash 6-disc changer and AM/FM radio that plays through a 100-watt, 6-speaker sound system. Designo leather seating is standard, as is a rear-view camera, blind-spot monitoring system, bi-xenon headlights, and dual-zone climate control. Roadsters feature the Airscarf neck-heating system and a removable wind deflector.
How do you doll up a supercar such as an SLS AMG? One way is with carbon fiber, much of which is available inside and out as options that cost thousands alone. For those who plan to take their SLS to the track – or make believe they're on one – there's the AMG Performance Media option. This system measures vehicle performance data and race results, and displays them on the screen. For audiophiles, there's a Bang & Olufsen unit that offers 1,000 watts of sonic bliss through 11 speakers. Those wishing to stop with the same vengeance as they can start can fit the SLS with $12,000-plus carbon-ceramic brakes.
The heart of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is a big, naturally aspirated V8 engine. It's technically 6.2 liters in displacement, but Mercedes still likes to dub it a 6.3. Among the hand-built engine's impressive facts – other than its 583 horsepower – is that it uses a dry-sump system for lubrication. This is relevant because it allows the engine to be placed lower for a better center of gravity (and thus, better handling) and enables you to corner hard with less worry of damaging the engine due to low oil pressure. All SLS models are rear-wheel drive and use a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
583 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
479 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19 mpg
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT coupe has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $200,000, while the SLS AMG GT roadster starts just under $207,000. A gas-guzzler tax adds over $2,000 to each. And, of course, options can add tens of thousands more. At these prices, the SLS is comparable to coupe and roadster versions of the Audi R8 GT and the Ferrari California. Cost-cutting probably isn't your highest priority if you're in the market for an SLS AMG, but we still advise checking the Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for this car. The SLS AMG's predicted resale value is not quite as high as that of other Mercedes, but still comparable to that of the Audi R8 – and over time, who knows what the exotic-car collectors will do to the price.