There’s something utterly beguiling about a large capacity V8 and the one you’ll find under the bonnet of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is an absolute peach. It’s a 6.2-litre unit and it was the first V8 from the AMG stable that it designed from the ground up, with its first application being in the E63 super-saloon where it developed 507bhp. It was given a comprehensive makeover for the SLS with a dry sump set up and 120 unique parts and in this guise it could muster a very healthy 563bhp. It’s a superb engine and even when running on part throttle it rumbles and crackles like distant thunder and lightning.
It’s one of those machines that had modern classic written all over it the moment it first saw the light of day and while it was the first car AMG designed from scratch in house it was also sadly the last to be fitted with a naturally aspirated V8. But the SLS was more than just a vessel for its wonderful V8 as its styling brought a sense of drama to the proceedings with its gullwing doors unashamedly harking back to the celebrated 300SL of the 1950s endowing the SLS with a further sense of drama.
It wasn’t just a case of prodigious power and retro-inspired styling that made the SLS a modern icon though as when we pitched it up against some pretty serious rivals it won us over with its blend of all round ability and everyday usability. Pitched head-to-head with Aston Martin’s V12 Vantage, Ferrari’s 599 HGTE and the evergreen Porsche 911 Turbo S the AMG’s depth of talent won the day. The SLS’s V8 was mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission complete with a ‘Race Start’ launch control system but even so we were unable to match the claimed 0-62mph time of 3.8sec, but having said that our 0-60mph time of 4.0sec wasn’t too shabby.
The SLS came to market in mid-2010 and roughly a year later it was joined by a Roadster version with an electrically-powered soft top. The transformation from coupe to Roadster saw the SLS’s gullwing doors being dropped but despite this the car’s all-round excellence remained, mainly thanks to its exceedingly stiff architecture with both the outer body and main structure being constructed from aluminium.
At the end of 2012 a revised GT version – in both coupe and Roadster guises – made its debut. There were revisions to both suspension and transmission to help get the best from a 20bhp power hike that Mercedes claimed reduced its 0-62mph time by a tenth of a second. The GT also saw the arrival of some additional trim options along with some more gadgets, too.
A monstrously pricey Black Series, complete with full-on carbon-fibre additions and a pared back feel, arrived in 2013 and this one also packed a nigh on race-spec engine with 622bhp. The last hurrah for the SLS was the GT Final Edition which made its debut in 2014 and like the Black Series this was rare and expensive, too.
Don’t get hung up on having to have a special edition model though as the ‘normal’ SLS coupe offers up the near perfect package of driver appeal, supercar performance and superb refinement.