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2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT - First Drive

After a few tweaks and tickles, the SLS is still ferociously awesome

Alex Bernstein
Jun 30, 2013 SHARE

When the SLS hit the scene in 2010, it made waves. With its truly unique - and stunning - styling, sinister exhaust note and steep price tag, it can't be ignored, no matter who you are, what you drive or how you drive it.

Having driven one close to the advertised top speed and blasted through canyon roads leaving thick trails of pricey Michelin tire smoke, I can tell you the SLS is one of the more confusing cars to rationalize, yet it's also an absolute riot to drive. It will make you smile like a little girl, or throw you in a ditch to teach you a lesson.

2013 mercedes benz SLS AMG GT passenger side profile Photo 2/8   |   2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT - First Drive

It's a high-end luxury super sports coupe that behaves like an aggressively tuned import car. Did it need to be updated and refreshed? Sure, the new GT is welcomed, but did this series of tweaks solidify a logical place for the car? We're unsure.

The SLS GT sees an increase of 20hp from a smaller displacement V8. However, horsepower definitely wasn't an area where the SLS required help, but we'll never complain about too much of something so wonderful.

The exhaust note is somehow even better than before. The SLS remains the best sounding Benz, and possibly one of the best sounding German cars of all time. From pops and burbles to rev limiters and wide-open-throttle pulls, the car begs to be driven hard.

While it performs well on a road course, its straight-line prowess is definitely the easiest to exploit. The jaunt to 60 takes 3.6sec and will blow past the quarter-mile in 11.7sec at 124.5mph. Launches are always fun thanks to the Race Start feature on the improved DCT transmission.

2013 mercedes benz SLS AMG GT passenger seat Photo 3/8   |   2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT - First Drive

Shifts are now faster and more precise. Even in full auto mode, the transmission does a great job of reading your mind, finding the correct gear for your driving style, although using the paddles is undeniably more fun.

If all roads were silky smooth and racetracks didn't have big curbs and tight turns, the SLS would be a driver's choice. And yet both the last version and new GT suffer from a shimmy at the rear simply by turning-in hard or gently trail-braking. And while you can adapt your style to induce less of this, nothing can make it ride smoother or softer.

We don't want the SLS to float on a cloud, but the car is too stiff to be daily driven. And even on a road course like Streets of Willow, the C63 Black Series felt better suited for track duty and was also far more compliant than the SLS. And we're making this assessment in Sport mode, the softer of the two available suspension settings. Sport+ is more rigid than most cars we've driven.

If you were purchasing an SLS AMG GT solely because you're obsessed with its style, have an affinity for burnouts and loud downshifts, spirited highway sprints and maybe some canyon hooning, then this is a superb reason to spend $200,000. But if you want a car for work and the track, we'd recommend you shop around, because there are cars that can do more for less.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

Layout front-engine, RWD

2013 mercedes benz SLS AMG GT front fascia Photo 7/8   |   2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT - First Drive

Engine 6.2-liter V8 DOHC 32v

Drivetrain seven-speed AMG Speedshift DCT dual-clutch transaxle

Brakes 15.4" front discs with six-piston calipers, 14.2" rear discs with four-piston calipers

Suspension four-wheel independent double wishbones with forged aluminum arms and hub carriers

Wheels & Tires 19x9.5", 265/35 R19 f, 20x11", 295/30 R20 r

MSRP $199500

Performance

Power 583hp at 6800rpm

2013 mercedes benz SLS AMG GT engine cover Photo 8/8   |   2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT - First Drive

Torque 479 lb-ft at 4750rpm

0-60mph 3.6sec

Top Speed 197mph

Weight 3833 lb

Economy 13/19mpg

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By Alex Bernstein
150 Articles

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