Shopping for a new Mercedes-Benz SLS?
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QUALITY | 7 out of 10
there isn't a ton of space inside
legroom isn't terribly generous
if you're over five feet tall, you will repeatedly smash your head
It's light, long, low, and wide, but the SLS simply doesn't have enough room for anything other than two medium-sized passengers and a bit of carry-on baggage.
At 183 inches long, with a wheelbase of 105.5 inches and an overall width of 76.3 inches, the 2010 SLS gullwing could have the interior room of a C-Class Benz-but it doesn't. It's only 49.3 inches high, and most of the wheelbase is taken up by engine and transmission, leaving scant space for two passengers, who will use most of the 39.1 inches of headroom even if they're not six-footers.
Inside, it's a tight fit. The firewall's close, the seats are large (if marvelously upholstered), and recline is blocked by the wall behind them, in front of the transaxle. "The interior is surprisingly claustrophobic," Automobile asserts, explaining "the door support structure in the middle of the roof hangs down considerably." Autoblog agrees, "there isn't a ton of space inside for lankier types," and reports the breaking point somewhere between 5'9" and 6'2, though they feel "claustrophobia didn't appear to be an issue." Edmunds concurs that "legroom isn't terribly generous," observing, "our 6-foot-2-inch frame could have used another inch of seat travel for true long-distance comfort." But Motor Trend reports the SLS is "roomier inside than expected. You sit low and twin bulges in the roof mean headroom is good even if you're tall. Just don't lean your noggin inboard toward where the door hinges reside." The steering wheel telescopes to create a workable driving position for six-footers, but finding the right balance of seating position and rake isn't set-and-forget-it's strategy.
The SLS' tricky geometry requires practice before getting in and finding a spot that's comfortable. Driver and passenger must pop open the gullwing handles-they're down near the door sills-and clamber in, being careful not to clank heads against the lower door panel. Even though "there's actually quite a large opening through which to fold yourself," Automobile says, "if you're over five feet tall, you will repeatedly smash your head when trying to get in or out." Motor Trend recalls, "getting seated requires far less contorting than with the original 300SL -- though the whole process is just as much of a show-stopper." Most reviewers note the manual gullwing doors require some forethought: "if you aren't on the tallish side, you're advised to grab the door handle on your way down, as the awkward reach will dash any hopes of a graceful getaway," Autoblog notes, while Edmunds says "unless you're an NBA star, there's no need to duck as you close these doors, either." Road & Track adds, "It's a little reach up to grab the door, but pulling it closed requires just a little more effort than opening it up." As Motor Authority discovers, "You can open the gullwings under about 30 mph but a warning beep suggests you do otherwise."
Interior storage in the SLS is minimal. A light, undamped glove box hides some space, shallow console bins are ready for a cell phone at most, and a netted pouch hangs between the seats. "The center console isn't very big and there are only a vestigial pair of cupholders for java junkies," Autoblog says. The huge shelf behind the seats isn't usable for cargo, since cargo would block rear visibility. The trunk's a bit better and will take a set of golf clubs or a couple of soft-sided bags. "The stubby rear deck lid conceals just 6.2 cubic feet of storage," Edmunds states, "just enough for weekend luggage for two." MotorAuthority panics for a moment: "Golf clubs? A couple of soft-sided bags? Make your choices well, since there's no other stowage available."
Quality and noise levels in the 2010 SLS AMG are much better than interior space. There's plenty of engine noise and very few moments of true peace in the SLS, but it's the right kind of noise-not from wind, but from intake manifolds and over-running injectors. Jalopnik says it's "always loud (both from road and engine noise)," but agrees with other reviewers that fit and finish is fine. "The rest of the car is finished in familiar Mercedes AMG fashion," Edmunds observes, while Autoblog reports "fit-and-finish on our prototype was very good."
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS's gullwing doors reward small bodies with balletic grace; big klutzes will hit their heads and won't fit well inside.