Not too long ago I put up an article written by my buddy Scott Vandekerckhove, he’s an independent contractor who works the automotive circuit as a product specialist. In the article he was kind enough to give us the rundown on a very cool story about a customer whose first new car happened to be a limited edition 2010 Dodge Viper ACR Voodoo Edition. Well, now Scott’s back with a new story and this time it’s got nothing to do with a customers car. You see very recently Scott was able to get his hands on the new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS Gullwing, a car which I wrote about not too long ago and a car that I fell in love with. The Gullwing is an animal of automobile and it appears that I was not the only one that it cast its spell over. If you thought my experience was good, take a listen to Scott’s…
I will spare the details on horsepower and torque. There’s more than enough, trust me. I won’t mention the size of the brakes. Just press the left pedal and the thing will stop, I assure you. And I will even save the price till the end of this story as I don’t want to cloud the issue at hand. It’s probably way more than you can afford anyways. No, this car is about something else. It’s about execution, excellence, craftsmanship, exclusivity and refinement of the highest levels. Not to mention its over-the-top performance. Heard enough?
The Mercedes Benz SLS AMG did things to me today that I can’t say I have felt in a very long time; possibly ever. Tasked with delivering the vehicle from our office in Troy, MI to Automobile Magazine in Ann Arbor, my job definitely did not suck today. 51 miles of absolute vehicular excellence made me realize the true meaning of driving. From the first time I laid eyes on this car in person, I instantly felt the butterflies churning from within. It is a visual masterpiece. The profile of the SLS is truly one-of-a-kind. With its incredibly short deck-lid and its extremely long hood, I’m sure many people may feel that the car is actually out of proportion. But that is the beauty here. To truly take this car in and study its design is to love it. You can’t help but just stare at it and say to yourself, “My my my, is that car beautiful, or what?!!!”
Oh, and when I said this thing has a long hood, I mean it has a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng hood! Seriously, I could train for the Boston Marathon running laps around the perimeter of this hood. It is so imposing that pictures and words simply do it no justice. You have to view this in person to realize the sheer magnitude of the bonnet. Ahead of the hood lies a grille that resembles the mouth of a megamouth shark; clearly designed to consume copious amounts of oxygen. Air inlets and heat extractors round out the front of the vehicle demonstrating the vast amount of aerodynamic work that must have gone into the SLS.
And then you open the doors. Oh my GAWD, the doors! Gull-wing to be exact.
Not since John Delorean’s stainless steel creation do I remember a car with gull-wing doors. This only adds to the mystique of the big Benz, giving it that extra flare that you are sure not to see everyday. With both sides open, the SLS appears poised to fly right off the ground and go hunting for other would-be supercars from the sky. It is obvious that this Mercedes is destined to replace the Delorean in Back To The Future 4 (if they ever decide to make it). This car would make Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown consider time travel all over again. Except this time around, they can leave the flux capacitor in the garage. 1.21 “jiggawatts” pales in comparison to the power underneath that marathon hood.
One press of the START button and the mighty V-8 comes to life with the roar of a thousand hungry lions. It is intoxicating beyond your wildest imagination. Not since I drove Mercedes’ own CLK 63 AMG Black Series have I heard an exhaust note as pissed off as this one. Pull the left gull-wing down around you, put the car in DRIVE, and you’re off like a prom dress. Once effortlessly merged onto the highway, you are constantly reminded of the power in reserve. Any touch of the throttle and those hungry lions under the hood come right out to feast. As a driver, you feel like one of those lions; a big ton-and-a-half male with a huge mane hungry for prey. All other cars on the road feverishly running for their lives like zebra flee from the king of the jungle.
I’m instantly reminded of Motorhead’s “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch.” That song would be my soundtrack in this car. But as ferocious as this car sounds, its manners are quite the opposite. While it may have the roar of a lion, it’s actually a big pussy cat. First and foremost, the interior is downright gorgeous. You sit in really comfortable, form-fitting bucket seats. The SLS I drove was decked out in beautiful red leather with a carbon fiber clad center console and stack. Suede surrounds portions of the steering wheel and covers the entire headliner. This is the definition of a cockpit. Even the vents in the dash are ultra cool with a bright chrome finish and a physical motion that just makes you smile.
Furthermore, the stereo absolutely kicks ass in here. A Bang & Olufsen performance audio package provides for tremendous clarity and depth. I had tunes ripping through the cabin at decibels that would make my father cry. The tweeters in the dash pierce right to the center of your skull, yet you can’t help but beg for more. This car is a rock ‘n’ roll machine. But when you want to hear symphony, it handles orchestral music with a beautiful grace that would make my mother cry. Also, the radio controls are channeled through Mercedes’ dial system found on the center console. This is nearly the same system from their S-Class sedans. For me, it is as close to perfection as possible. Of any vehicle I have ever driven, I could not imagine better ergonomics.
And last of all, there’s the ride quality, which is absolutely superb. This car is definitely firm (like it ought to be), yet it handles bumps and voids in the road very well. In Michigan, pavement irregularities are all too common, but the SLS took them all on without a problem. The suspension never felt unsettled and in fact, felt composed the entire time. It was excellent. I guess my purpose for writing this piece was to convey the unbelievable balance in the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG. Never have I been behind the wheel of car that so effortlessly blends a beautiful appearance with such extraordinary performance. It is magical.
As my time on the freeway was drawing to a close, I felt compelled to hear the engine sing just one more time. I was doing about 70 mph and simply downshifted the car via the paddles mounted on the steering column; first from 6th to 5th, then to 4th, and then to 3rd. Each downshift was met with a blip of the throttle as the revs climbed higher and as the revs climbed, the shit-eating grin on my face grew wider and wider; simply astounded by the aural supremacy resonating out from underneath the car. My heart was pounding! This is what it’s all about.
The price, you ask? Just south of $200,000. Is it worth it? You’re damn right it is! Every penny!