Much of the process of getting into the Mercedes SLS coupe is dominated by those doors. Unlock the car and small handles automatically sprout from each door; they retract again when the car is locked or driven away.
The doors themselves are surprisingly light, their movement assisted upwards by a gas strut. Entry into the car is then relatively easy, if not tremendously dignified. You have to step over a wide sill and down into the seat, while remembering not to bump your head on the way. Which brings us to the gullwing doors’ most controversial aspect: that they are not electrically assisted. Mercedes argues, reasonably, that this would have added weight exactly where you don’t want it. But the fact remains that unless you’re relatively tall or long armed, you’ll have to grasp the door handle on your way down into the seat. Which is not impossible, but certainly a test of dexterity.
Coupe or roadster, with the doors closed, the cabin is surprisingly compact. That said, the seating position is good, with enough legroom for those over 6ft and a decent range of adjustment in the steering. Our review car had optional carbon-backed sports seats that, by virtue of being manually adjusted, sit lower in the car and boost headroom. With the standard seats, headroom is decidedly tight. Overall, though, while there is just about enough room (and storage) for a long journey, the feeling within the SLS is snug. And familiar.
Tall sills and long bonnet aside, the view from the driver’s seat looks remarkably like that of any other Mercedes. For the most part, this means that it is easy to use, but we can’t help feeling that the SLS could do with a bit more sense of occasion. And although the centre console does feel cold to the touch, the silver-effect main dials look out of place in a car costing this much.