Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster pictures and hands-on

There are some things you just can't refuse, so when Mercedes-Benz invited us to get friendly with its AMG cars, what were we to do? We don’t like to do things by halves, so we were straight into the SLS AMG Roadster and racing off along the leafy byways of Surrey.

The SLS is all about drama with the bonnet stretching off to eternity, the hunkered-down body looking like it's ready to strike. It's not a stealth-styled like some supercars, but it carries a retro connection to Mercedes-Benz heritage, be that through the shape of the nose, or the internal air vents. 

Fold away the roof and on a perfectly sunny late-Summers day, it's the ideal car for posing. The SLS will roll along with barely a whisper so you can quietly slip along suburban high streets without making shop windows rattle. Gentlemen will doff their hats at your good taste, teenage kids will gawp open-mouthed.

At least that's what you'll think, cocooned in the cockpit of leather and carbonfibre (a £6,000 option), so close, yet so far removed from what we'd call "the real world". Yes, the SLS AMG Roadster is very much a fantasy car and once you're behind wheel, you'll be whipped off into your own fantasy world. 

Rolling slowly is one thing, but that's not really what the SLS was made for. A dab of accelerator, the 6.3-litre engine bites, and heads turn to watch as the SLS leaps forwards, pushing you back into the leather-clad AMG seats. Keep your foot firmly down and the roaring doesn't stop, the world around you appears to bend as you race over the horizon.

That is until the little niggling voice in your head tells you to ease off. Self-preservation, we think that is.

The SLS AMG Roadster is certainly pretty and powerful and people will either love you or hate you sitting in the cockpit, but it's also incredibly easy to drive. Nothing feels difficult. The roof easily and swiftly opens and closes, there's no problem with everyday tasks, like reversing, and clever extras such as blind spot sensors will warn you when the SLS detects a car you might not have noticed.

But for a car that does everything, and costs just shy of £210,000 in the configuration we drove, there seem to be an awful lot of buttons and knobs. Some of these we understand, like the drive mode knob. Fine, you'll want to use this (probably) but its location is such that it suggests it's an everyday occurrence.

 

The button to deploy the rear spoiler manually - otherwise rising at 80mph - might seem superfluous, but you can't help giving a vain smirk when you press it. Then you have the in-car entertainment system, which brings with it an abundance of buttons on the central console and a 7-inch display.

Finding your way around the entertainment system feels a little more clunky than it should. The mock radio frequency dial on the display looks as though it lacked imagination in conception and this Mercedes system, admittedly a few years old now, doesn't match the likes of recent Audi or BMW systems. Fortunately the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG system (a £5,000 option) doesn't disappoint and even with the roof down and engine happily purring away, Carly Rae Jepsen sounded as lovely as ever. Yes, we went there. 

The steering wheel controls, again, don't feel like the most sophisticated, and the driver information display panel could offer more for those who like to tinker: gadget freaks, like us. Some will argue that this car isn't about these minor details, but if you've sold your house to buy one, then the entertainment system might not give you the biggest thrills.

Fortunately there are plenty of things that will. Sitting with the roof down there's very little disturbance from the wind - with the windows up - so driving open-topped isn't going to literally blow you away, even if it does metaphorically. Even though push-button start is becoming more common, it's still a thrill to just sit down, start the engine and listen to it roar to life.

That's where the pleasure really starts, because while this cabriolet might lack the iconic gull-wing doors of its sibling SLS, it's a glorious place to be and actually driving this super roadster is bliss, top down, sound system up, engine roaring.



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