Gull wing thrills – the Mercedes SLS

Gull wing doors, rorty 6.2 V8 engine, very long bonnet and stunning styling. It’s a winning formula without doubt.

A winning formula

Sitting in the sculpted seats and facing neat but effective dials I immediately feel like I have arrived somewhere special. Controls are familiar yet slightly odd, the doors are the first obvious deviation from the norm but this is complimented by the Park position on the gearbox being on a separate button next to the gear stick. The gear stick merely selects forward, neutral or reverse, the operating mode, manual, auto or sports is selected on a small dial, and manual selection is via the industry standard steering wheel paddles. The quirkiness adds to the special feeling beautifully.
Stylish and quirky

A brief press of the start button swings the engine into life with a sudden burst of noise that scares small children, a noise I imagine would be similar to a dragon clearing its throat before destroying a castle.
Rain drops and thunder

This fearsome symphony is contrasted by the ultra smooth way the car pulls away and eases into the traffic. A quick sprint round a roundabout and I am on Millbrook’s legendary high speed bowl, 2 miles of banked concrete that has seen many UK speed records over the years. But today it is heaving with rain, a thunderstorm is crashing against the hills and venting its anger on the track, no matter the SLS barks back at the clouds and from this level easily wins the shouting competition.
563 bhp is let free by my right foot, the car duly surges forward with unrelenting pace, the ESP system does a magnificent of preserving the intended direction of travel as the rear wheels struggle for grip on the rapidly flooding concrete. The seating position is very close to the rear axle, a bit like a Caterham, and so every twitch and drama from the rear tyres is transmitted beautifully into the driver, you can feel this car, and its alive with power and purpose.
Vents, slats and cubic capacity.

The great thing about banked tracks is that they drain quickly, as soon as the deluge passed the track dried and I was able at last to sample the delicious force of power without slip, it was not disappointing. Acceleration is on a par to a grand piano falling off a penthouse balcony, each of the seven DSG gears bangs home almost instantly with the engine billowing out a spine tingling symphony reminiscent of a WW2 fighter plane.
All too soon it’s time to come in, standing on the brakes at three figure speeds forces blood into my face like falling flat from a great height on a bouncy castle. Trickling the car back to the kind people at the Mercedes stand revealed a very civilized and easy to drive side of this magnificent car’s personality.
The Mercedes team welcome the SLS back

This test was prompted my a question from my better half, she asked ‘is the SLS any good’, my answer is a definite yes it is, it’s very good indeed.

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