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The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is the latest take on the iconic gullwing design--though a roadster has joined the fold as well.
Updated from the previous SLS AMG, the new SLS AMG GT is fresher, more powerful, and a bit more refined. The total package comes together as a brilliant grand touring super sports car, whether you choose the gullwings or the power-retracting soft top.
On the design front, there's not a lot new on the outside of the 2013 SLS AMG GT. It still shares the long hood and cab-rearward proportions of the original, itself an echo of the 1950s-era race cars that spawned the famous gullwings. With lightly revised details, the overall effect of the SLS AMG GT's style is impressive. It's a stunning car in both coupe and convertible form.
Inside, the interior is only slightly tweaked in design, but the overall result is even more impressive than the exterior. High-quality leather, metal, and plastics combine with Mercedes-AMG's latest take on styling to yield a classy, upscale look and feel. Optional quilted leather on the seating surfaces and red seatbelt straps speak of exclusivity. There's even an optional 12 o'clock indicator for the steering wheel on black-upholstered models.
Under the hood, the 6.2-liter V-8 engine is similar, but revised: an additional 12 horsepower bring the total to 583 hp, and the heady, throbbing sound it puts out is almost as much fun as the thrust. A revised seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox adds even more to the performance, particularly with its adjustable Sport, Sport+, and Manual modes. These modes make the shifts progressively sharper, and bring in more and more track-style dynamics.
Behind the wheel, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is more nimble and aggressive than you might expect given its luxury-class interior and longish looks. In fact, if anything, the SLS AMG GT is a bit too eager to turn--the innate balance of the car tends toward oversteer, a trait well-controlled with the stability and traction aids in full effect, but which comes quickly to the surface as they're progressively disabled by the console-mounted sport mode selector. The ride and handling are adjusted dynamically with the new AMG Adapative Performance Suspension.
Despite this slightly twitchy character, there's ample grip in the SLS AMG GT, especially notable under braking. Large 20-inch wheels wrapped in sticky tires and big brakes (now with standard red calipers) provide the necessary muscle here.
As for cabin space, you might guess that the tiny bubble enclosed by those gullwings would be a bit tight for passengers. You'd be right. Entry can be tough, as the gullwings are just about head-height (but just out of sight) for taller passengers; shorter occupants will need to remember to grab the door on their way in, or they'll be left seated, staring up at the door handle, just out of reach. Getting out of the gullwing, taller occupants will again need to be mindful of painful head-bumps into the door.
The SLS AMG GT Roadster solves all of the gullwing-related problems, of course, but still has to deal with the compact dimensions of the available passenger area. While there's plenty of leg room, and enough head room,there's not a ton of shoulder and hip space, and there's only just enough storage room in the cabin. The trunk also isn't very large, and on long drives, can get quite warm due to the exhaust routed directly below it.
On the tech front, the Mercedes-Benz COMAND system offers all you'd expect of a modern luxury car, and while its interface isn't the elegant, once you learn its basic rules, it's powerful, quick, and simple.
Like most high-end luxury/performance cars, the 2013 SLS AMG GT hasn't been crash tested by the major government and private agencies. It has, however, been rated for gas mileage by the EPA, and at 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway for both coupe and roadster, it's not likely to win any green awards. But that's the price you pay for true performance, right?
- Iconic design, especially with the gullwing coupe
- Roadster has its own long, low-slung appeal
- Brilliant performance, even better sound
- First-rate interior
- Direct, engaging steering
- Not much space in the cabin
- Small trunk, which gets hot on longer drives
- Not great gas mileage
- A bit too far toward oversteer in setup