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STYLING | 8 out of 10
isn't purely a retro pastiche
Road & Track
rear end "inspired by the Buick Reatta and the Acura CL coupe
is supposed to remind you of jets and fighter pilots
The 2010 SLS AMG fuses classic and new styling themes on its purebred chassis-"this isn't purely a retro pastiche. It has its own proportions, form vocabulary, and detailing that makes it much more than a Xerox'd yellowed blueprint," Autoblog reports-but it's not a successful marriage. It's dominated by a wide grille grafted on an impossibly long nose, with only a brief suggestion of a rear end.
It's also shod with a pair of gullwing doors. As outfitted, there's no other car on the planet that looks as stunning with its doors open. The gullwings stop traffic and give the SLS an instant iconography. Jalopnik glosses over other details, gushing, "have you seen how sexy those Gullwing doors are when they pop open?" Automobile points out, "Ugly is, truthfully, too strong of a word to describe the new Mercedes-Benz supercar, but so, too, is beautiful. Until you open the gullwing doors, that is."
"The styling of this latest Mercedes-Benz is striking," Road & Track declares, but while it's truly handsome from a few angles-the rear three-quarter view plays up the liquid profile, and the nose is pure muscle car-the sculpting of the rear deck and the way the rear fenders fall around the taillights are uninspired and plain. "If you're not sold on it, a critique of the SLS body could be unflattering," Motor Authority says. The front end is wide and menacing-"ludicrous," it seems to Motor Trend, which asks, "There's so much acreage at the prow, what goes there? Another engine?"-but isn't entirely related to the teensy greenhouse, which has sizable, safety-inspired pillars in back in the place of the original's glassy greenhouse. "The rear of the car is rounded somewhat," Road & Track observes, "but the tall trunk with its pop-up spoilers looks a bit too much like the old Acura CL for my tastes." Automobile adds that it was apparently "inspired by the Buick Reatta and the Acura CL coupe." The pillars are there for a reason-body rigidity and rollover protection-but they're so unlike the front end, it's a visual hitch. And the overall proportions make the best case for superstardom: "the abbreviated cabin and low roof help to emphasize just what the big Merc is packing up front," Jalopnik remarks.
The SLS is cleaner and more predictable inside-and sometimes stunning, as in the black-on-white edition. The dash is similar to the one in the preceding supercar, the SLR, but with far richer finishes that address concerns over that car's pedestrian cabin. "The large analog gauges are surrounded by aluminum accents," Road & Track observes, "and there's plenty of carbon-fiber trim to complement the car's high-tech aura." Eye-catching details are strewn about, like the "new T-shaped gear selector," which Motor Trend reports, "is supposed to remind you of jets and fighter pilots. Too bad it's about 50 percent smaller than the thrust control lever found in Maverick's F-14." The climate and radio controls are exactly like those in the C-Class-"we love the round HVAC vents," Car and Driver says-but they're ringed in metallic trim. The SLS lifts bits and pieces from Mercedes inventory, but they're used in appropriate ways. In all it's pleasing, but as Autoblog comments, "the SLS' interior is generally well executed, but it lacks the sense of occasion that the doors promise."
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG has an awkward moment or two as it reaches for the sky with those extraordinary gullwing doors.