I've driven the SLS – both Gullwinged and roofless – numerous times in the past, and I'm happy to report that this car never feels old. Despite losing its signature roof-hinged doors, the SLS Roadster still makes quite an entrance wherever it goes, and doing so with the top down makes driving the car even more enjoyable.
- While there are plenty of reasons to love the SLS, my personal favorite is the raw power that it delivers. The slight bump in horsepower (583 up from 563) is practically undetectable, but this car sounds like a racecar when you get heavy on the throttle. In Sport+ mode, the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox delivers lightning-fast shifts while the exhaust creates some of the best gurgles and pops you'll probably ever hear on a modern production car.
- Having driven the SLS on the track in the past, I was very impressed at how calm and collected this car feels in everyday driving. Piloting an SLS always takes a little longer to get used too since there is so much of the car in front of the driver, but it is still a lot easier to drive than most low-slung super cars. Speed bumps and driveways never caused the front chin to scrape although the long nose makes it hard to judge how close you are to parking blocks.
- On the road, the easiest way to describe this car is "fast as hell." Mercedes claims a 0-60 time of 3.6 seconds, and that was consistently backed up with data displayed in the optional AMG Performance Media telemetry system. Step on the gas and this car will rocket to illegal speeds before your brain has time to resume its natural position within your skull. Even better, the same brakes that can bring this car to a stop at triple-digit speeds felt just fine in normal driving without being overly grabby. Sadly, the flat and mostly straight roads in my area prevented me from pushing the handling of this SLS too far, but in a day where even performance cars are switching to electric power steering, the SLS' wheel felt perfectly weighted (leaning toward the heavy side) to back up its racecar-like feel.
- Admittedly, I drove the SLS hard as often as possible, but I was impressed that I was still able to drive 220 miles using about three-quarters of a tank of gas... until I checked the specs to see how big the gas tank is. The SLS has 22.5-gallon tank with a 3.7-gallon reserve (totaling 26.2 gallons), which I find astonishing. Not only is that what most big trucks and SUVs offer, but I can't even fathom where such a big tank would fit in the small area behind the passenger compartment – also where the seven-speed DCT is located. While most supercars have small tanks and limited range, this means the SLS can drive almost 500 miles if you go by the EPA's highway rating of 19 miles per gallon.
- Even more surprising than this range is the fact that you could actually drive the SLS that far without being punished by the suspension. I spent most of my time in the SLS driving up and down Florida's coast between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, and, with the exception of a bad sunburn, it was a very comfortable ride.
- The interior of the SLS is like a mix of high-tech supercar and typical Mercedes – exactly what you'd expect from a $233,000 sports car. The Designo Style interior package costs more than some decent used cars at $4,500, but it includes a stunning, two-tone leather interior including a quilted stitch pattern on the seat inserts. Where there wasn't leather in this car, there was carbon fiber. Between the interior and underhood bits, this car had $8,150 of optional carbon fiber trim.
- Speaking of pricey options, this car's 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system rings in at a staggering $6,400, but it's the aforementioned AMG Performance Media ($2,500) that is a must-have for any enthusiast. Incorporated into the head unit display, this technology shows real-time performance data including 0-60 and quarter-mile times, throttle and brake positions, a G-meter and much more. I can't say that I got any real use from the audio system since I spent plenty of time enamored with the exhaust note, but I got to know the AMG Performance Media system rather well. Although very useful for track driving or boasting about the car's skills, the only real disappointment about the AMG Performance Media is how much Mercedes wants for the option... especially when considering that Chrysler's SRT cars get this type of feature as standard equipment (and you can buy almost the entire SRT lineup for the price of this SLS Roadster).
- Thankfully, with the top up, the Roadster has the same profile as the Coupe, and with the top down, you get a better experience of the car's speed and exhaust note. If convertibles are your thing, then you'll love the fact that you don't have to give anything up in choosing the SLS Roadster over the Coupe as the convertible's weight is only incrementally higher, luggage space is only reduced by a fraction of a cubic foot, and the triple-layer fabric top keeps the interior nearly as quiet as the hardtop model.
- If I were shopping SLS AMG GTs, though, my money would be on the coupe, simply because of the added visual impact of those Gullwing doors. But as a wise man once said, "If there's a supercar sitting in your driveway, just shut up and drive it." (Okay, maybe I just quoted myself on that one.)