Arguably the Mercedes SLS’s immediate predecessor is the Mercedes-McLaren SLR, but Mercedes would prefer instead that we see inspiration for the SLS in the 1954 300SL. Which is understandable. The story starts when Mercedes adapted the underpinnings of the 1951 300 saloon, using a spaceframe chassis and aluminium body panels, to create the race-only W194. After this finished second and fourth in the 1952 Mille Miglia, followed by victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a road-going version was created: the iconic W198 300SL.

The first thing anyone wants to talk about, of course, with this SLS coupe is the doors. Certainly, there is considerable excitement at the return of a Gullwing Mercedes. And talk about them we will, discussing exactly how practical they are in real use, as well as highlighting the positives and negatives of losing them on the Roadster model.

However, there is so much more to the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG than those doors. The SLS has been developed entirely in house. And by ‘in house’, Mercedes actually means the tuning firm AMG, which became an official Mercedes department in 1990. This is the first time AMG has been given a clean sheet to build a road car from the ground up, and one with the billing that it will be something altogether more serious than the familiar ‘big-engine-and-comfortable-Mercedes’ AMG recipe. The talk this time is of an all-out supercar.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Aston Martin DB11 V8
    First Drive
    22 November 2017
    Aston's decision to utilise AMG's 4.0-litre V8 struck us as an inspired one initially, but will a drive on UK roads change our minds?
  • Volvo XC40 cornering
    First Drive
    21 November 2017
    Volvo’s XC40 arrives in the premium compact SUV segment and hits the right note with design, practicality and driving style
  • Jaguar E-Pace D180
    First Drive
    19 November 2017
    Not the driver’s car many would hope from any car wearing the Jaguar badge, but the E-Pace is an attractive and interesting addition to the compact premium SUV ranks
  • Jaguar E-Pace P300
    First Drive
    19 November 2017
    Jaguar’s second SUV faces up to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Tough task, so is the E-Pace up to it?
  • Subaru Impreza
    First Drive
    17 November 2017
    The fifth-generation Subaru Impreza is much improved from top to bottom, but a poor engine and gearbox keep it trailing in this competitive class