2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
January 22, 2014

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is fast, fun, and luxurious, while the Black Series is in a league above; just don't expect S-Class levels of comfort and equipment.

An all-new super-performance version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT joins the ranks this year, and it's called the Black Series. SLS AMG GT coupe and roadster models carry forward into the 2014 model year unchanged.

The arrival of the Black Series shouldn't indicate that the $200,000-plus SLS AMG GT is anything less than a supercar, however. With a dose of power and interior upgrades last year, the SLS AMG GT is every bit the design-forward, V-8-barking, gullwinged (in coupe form, at least) devil-in-a-suit it should be.

Drawing its heritage back to the famous racing SLs of the 1950s, the SLS AMG GT side-steps the retro-trend entirely, instead interpreting the long-nosed, cab-rearward proportions through a 21st-century lens--it looks sharp, sleek, and fast, even at a standstill. Inside, clean shapes and quality materials convey both luxury and sport, purpose and poise.

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A refined yet ferocious 6.2-liter V-8 provides the power for the SLS AMG GT in both coupe and roadster forms, delivering 583 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Despite the long nose, the front-mid engine position and rear-mounted seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox help push the weight distribution to 47-percent over the front axle and 53-percent over the rear. All of that power translates through the rear wheels to 3.7-second 0-60-mph runs and a top speed of 197 mph (electronically limited).

In the new SLS AMG Black Series, power rises to 622 horsepower, while an aggressive cam pushes torque down slightly to 468 pound-feet. Acceleration is even quicker, reaching 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, but owing to much more significant aerodynamic downforce, top speed is reduced to 196 mph. The power in the Black Series still comes from a 6.2-liter V-8, but it has been heavily modified to sustain that extra power, as well as a redline of 8,000 rpm.

In any version of the SLS AMG, be it the GT Coupe, Roadster, or Black Series, the cabin is much the same: there's room for two, but only just. If you're on the tall side of six feet, you'll find head room is limited at best, though leg room is generally good, and the seats are highly adjustable to suit most body types. In Coupe models, the gullwing doors will require shorter passengers to remember to grab the door handle on their way in--it requires a six-footer's arm span to reach the handles once already seated.

In the SLS AMG GT Roadster, the doors are more familiar, abut there's still limited storage space in the cabin and trunk, so even weekend trips will require appropriate planning.

Technology and features are, as you'd expect, quite extensive. Most of the car's features are controlled through the COMAND interface in the central display, itself ruled by a rotating knob flanked by buttons in the center console. It's not the most elegant display, but it's easy to learn and control on the move.

The SLS AMG GT, like most of its $200,000-plus brethren, hasn't been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but it is constructed with the same structural integrity engineering and safety equipment as other Mercedes-Benz models, and should be a fairly safe place in a crash.

EPA ratings for the SLS AMG GT reflect the car's performance and the unlikelihood of its use as a daily-driving long-distance commuter: the Coupe and Roadster models score 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined. The even more potent SLS AMG Black Series rates 13/17/14 mpg.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Styling

Unique gullwings on the SLS AMG GT coupe give way to a stylish, sleek form in the Roadster, while the Black Series is pure track fury.

The gullwinged Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Coupe has, perhaps, the stronger tie to history--and may be the more coveted on the concours lawn in a half-century's time--but the for our money, the SLS Roadster is the more elegant choice, gaining a long and lean profile as it loses its roof.

Whichever form of the SLS AMG you choose (GT, GT Roadster, or Black Series), the basic proportions are the same: an almost impossibly long hood, low-slung stance, rearward cabin, and exceptionally short rear end, all hunkered over a wide stance and masculine, aggressive cues at each end.

In the Black Series, those aggressive cues tend toward the racing end of the spectrum, with canards up front and a wing out back to balance aerodynamic loads--and nod toward the SLS AMG GT3 racing car. The SLS AMG GT Coupe is rounder, smoother, and simpler, but the Roadster's loss of the gullwings gives it the gift of less awkward proportions around the passenger area, leaving a stunningly long, lean, and low profile that's as ballistic as it is beautiful.

Inside, all versions of the SLS AMG offer modern Mercedes-Benz luxury: throne-like seats, a well-formed and comfortable steering wheel, high-tech gauges and displays, combining to form a modern and yet old-world interpretation of luxury, sport, and refinement.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Performance

Fast--almost unbelievably so in Black Series form--the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is a true supercar.

If it's raw speed and unbridled performance you're after, look to the SLS AMG Black Series. For those desiring a bit more balance between the street and track sides of life, the SLS AMG GT Coupe is the pick. If you'd like a healthy dose of speed with your stylish new red-carpet ride, opt for the SLS AMG GT Roadster.

Why? They're listed above in descending order of to-the-limit performance, but all are unreasonably fast and (mostly) uncompromisingly good when pushed hard.

The SLS AMG Black Series is unquestionably the track demon of the group, born and bred with that task in mind. A ferocious version of the 6.2-liter V-8 shared across the range gains upgraded internal parts and a race-like tune to extract 622 horsepower and an 8,000-rpm redline for Black Series duty. The result is a powerplant that just begs to be thrashed--and gives no indication that the thrashing pains it.

The SLS AMG GT, in both coupe and roadster forms, yields 583 horsepower, but slightly more torque, making it more tractable in day-to-day driving, but still a potent force when fully uncorked.

In all forms of the car, you'll get a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, fitted with a mode-selector dial that offers Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Manual modes. The Comfort mode is well-suited to around-town use, shifting smoothly and unobtrusively to keep coffee in its cup and the passenger from noticing a thing. Sport mode kicks things up a notch, adding a barking downshift now and then, while Sport+ awakens a computerized race driver, almost telepathically selecting the proper gear even under the most taxing conditions. Manual mode puts the driver in full control through the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The combination of the smooth and quick transmission plus the strong standard 6.2-liter V-8 engine yields 0-60 mph times of 3.7 seconds for the SLS AMG GT Coupe and Roadster. The SLS AMG Black Series leverages its extra power and lighter-weight components for a 3.5-second run to the 60-mph mark. Due to the extra aerodynamic bits on the Black Series, however, it's a touch slower at top speed: 196 mph, versus the electronically limited 197-mph top speed of the standard models.

When it comes to dynamic response and handling, the SLS AMG GT doesn't disappoint. There's ample grip thanks to wide and grippy tires, though the overall balance tends toward a busy rear-end, wanting to step out at anything more than mild provocation from the throttle, particularly if you dare to engage Sport Handling mode (a single tap on the traction control button) or, even more bravely, to disable traction control altogether. At the absolute limits, the SLS AMG GT is a touch nervous, requiring a skilled driver to extract the best lap times. The SLS AMG Black Series tames this tail-happy tendency somewhat, despite the increased power, through even grippier tires, an electronically controlled rear differential, a slightly wider track, and improved suspension setup.

On the street, the Black Series' higher-performance tune is a bit more rough-and-tumble, though even the base SLS AMG GT models are firm and frisky over broken or rough-surfaced pavement.

All models offer the AMG Performance Media system that essentially puts an LCD face to your driving heroics. It translates lateral grip, acceleration, engine data and lap times into an ever-changing display that doubles as the car's navigation system when you blip out of AMG mode.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Comfort & Quality

The 2014 SLS AMG GT doesn't have the most spacious cabin or compliant ride, but it's well-constructed and luxurious throughout.

Uniquely focused on performance--unlike the rest of the AMG range, there is no non-AMG version of the SLS--the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT is nonetheless still very much a Mercedes, with all of the luxury that implies.

Despite the SLS AMG GT having about the same exterior dimensions as the C Class sedan (the SLS AMG GT is 76.3 inches wide, 183 inches long, with a 105.5-inch wheelbase), there's not much space inside. The sport-focused ride is harsher than most Mercedes vehicles, but even in the very hardcore SLS AMG Black Series, it's not beyond the borders of rationality.

Taller occupants will find headroom is a bit spare, though fortunately in the gullwinged coupes, there's a slight scoop out of the roof to accommodate those just over six feet. Roadsters don't have this problem as noticeably, even with the soft top in the raised position.

Entry and exit is also easier in the Roadster; the coupe's gullwing doors make for potential head hazards for taller occupants when getting out, and shorter folks may have a hard time reaching the door to close it once seated. After a few days of living with the car, however, most will adapt to its eccentricities.

These high-performance (and high aesthetic) compromises aside, amongst its supercar competition, the SLS AMG GT is actually on the more comfortable side. The seats are supportive but not overly firm, and adjust through a wide range of body types and sizes. Leg room isn't abundant, but only the most long-legged will truly be short of space. In the driver's seat, the steering wheel offers power-adjusted tilt and telescope functions, helping to achieve the ideal position, and the adjustable bolsters allow you to find the right balance of spirited-driving security or long-haul support.

There's not much storage space in the cabin, with just a small glove box and shallow console bin plus a netted pouch or two along the transmission tunnel. The trunk is small, too--about half the size of a typical compact sedan's trunk at 6 cubic feet. It will hold one set of golf clubs or a light weekend's worth of soft-sided bags.

Throughout the cabin, the levels of fit, finish, and materials are nearly flawless, as you'd expect at the SLS AMG GT's price point. The SLS AMG Black Series upgrades the look and feel of the chrome, leather, and carbon fiber to an even higher level. Noise, however, can be a bit high, with the wide tires and throaty exhaust making their presence known in the cabin even at moderate speeds.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Safety

No official crash-test scores are in for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT, but it does offer a strong set of standard safety features.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT, but that's common for expensive, limited-volume luxury cars.

Despite the lack of official crash-test data, Mercedes-Benz's reputation for engineering and safety is well-earned, and applied through the design of the 2014 SLS AMG GT. Six airbags are standard in the coupe, as are traction and multi-mode stability control.

On the tech side, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitors are also standard. Some of Mercedes' more advanced safety technology systems, such as lane-keeping assist and head-up displays, are not available, however.

The only significant safety concern with the SLS AMG GT is visibility, as the gullwing coupe's rear window and pillars limit vision, and the roadster's high deck lid--about the level of the occupants' shoulders--does as well. The SLS' low-slung stance also contributes to the lack of visibility, requiring drivers to exercise care when maneuvering in traffic. Fortunately, the blind-spot monitors help mitigate this shortcoming.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Features

Well-equipped in base form, the 2014 SLS AMG GT offers few upgrades, but the designo interior is a must-see add-on.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT and Black Series offer carefully selected sets of features, ensuring an experience befitting the Mercedes-Benz and AMG brands, but without overburdening the car with heavy, extraneous equipment.

There aren't any hot-stone massage seats, for example, but all models get standard leather upholstery (available in a beautifully stitched quilted pattern as an upgrade); COMAND infotainment with the center-mounted control knob; automatic climate control; heated power seats; power tilt/telescope steering wheel; rear parking sensors; a rearview camera; blind-spot monitoring; cruise control; and an AM/FM/DVD satellite radio system.

There aren't many options available, but what is offered tends to push the feature set further into luxury territory rather than upgrading the SLS AMG GT's sporting credentials, with one notable exception: the AMG Performance Media system.

While it doesn't make the car any faster, it might improve the driver. The AMG Performance Media system logs and displays performance metrics such as horsepower, torque, accelerator position, lateral and linear acceleration, braking performance, 0-60-mph times, quarter-mile times, and lap times. The system is activated by an AMG button in the center console, and controlled through the COMAND center.

On the other end of the options list sits the designo appearance and materials upgrades, which includes premium leather with beautiful hand-stitching among other upgrades. A Bang & Olufsen surround-sound audio system upgrades the listening experience, with a total of 11 speakers and 1,000 watts of output, including two 250-watt subwoofers and illuminated 50-watt tweeters mounted in the dash.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Fuel Economy

Great gas mileage isn't in the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT's vocabulary; it only speaks the language of speed.

If you're looking at the SLS AMG line and expecting great gas mileage, you probably don't get the idea of a supercar. It's fast, it's beautiful, and it's exclusive--but it's not green.

The best the SLS AMG GT can do is 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined, per the EPA. That score applies to both the Coupe and Roadster models of the car.

The SLS AMG Black Series kicks up the horsepower and knocks down the gas mileage to 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, and 14 mpg combined.

For those truly desiring the best of both worlds, however, there is the extremely limited-edition SLS AMG Electric Drive, an all-electric version of the car with similarly stunning performance. Unfortunately, it's not available in the U.S. yet, so you'll have to arrange your own gray-market import.

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July 17, 2015
2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT 2-Door Coupe SLS AMG GT

Other than my 2015 Z51 Corvette Stingray this is the fastest street car that I have ever owned. On the track it's like driving a brick compared to my Corvette Stingray

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A great car for the average person. If you want to race it I suggest you check out the Corvette Z06, Porsche Turbo, Lamborghini. Enjoy!!! George Perk Burnett
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