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Mercedes-Benz’s modern-day gullwing goes out in style, and sets a storming precedent for the new GT AMG due later this year

Our Verdict

Mercedes-AMG SLS GT

The Mercedes- AMG SLS GT excites in a way few exotic supercars can manage, but a firm ride compromises all-round appeal

10 April 2014

What is it?

The last of the modern-day Mercedes-Benz gullwing models. AMG boss, Tobias Moers, says of the awkwardly named SLS AMG GT Final Edition. “As the first car to be completely developed by AMG, the SLS marked the beginning of a new era for our company. Now we are offering customers one final variant of our sports car.”

The SLS swansong is planned to be produced in a run of no more than 350, both in coupé and roadster body styles, through to the end of May, when AMG’s factory on the outskirts of Stuttgart will be refitted to handle production of a smaller and cheaper sports car, the new GT.

On the face of it, the SLS AMG GT Final Edition looks to have the potential to become the most rounded of all SLS AMG models launched since its addition to the Mercedes-Benz line-up back in 2009. It combines the upgraded engine and suspension of the SLS AMG GT with the aerodynamic and weight-saving measures used on the track-focused SLS AMG Black Series, creating a car that Moers describes as offering the best possible balance of performance for both public road use and race-track action.

The familiar naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, slung out front underneath the long probing bonnet, receives a range of detailed changes to free up its breathing properties and boost the efficiency of the combustion process. In one of its final configurations, before it is replaced by a new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, the multi-point injected petrol engine delivers 18bhp more than the engine found in the regular SLS AMG, developing 581bhp. Torque is unchanged at 469lb ft.

The rich reserves are channelled to the rear wheels via a lightly revised seven-speed dual clutch transaxle boasting four modes – Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual. It receives the same updated software as that brought to the regular SLS AMG GT. The promise is a faster and crisper shift action and a double declutching feature.   

Cosmetically, the last SLS AMG model gets a carbonfibre splitter up front and fixed wing at the rear – both taken from the SLS AMG Black Series, which also donates its carbonfibre bonnet with a central air outlet. Together, the exterior changes are claimed to reduce lift forces acting on both the front and axles while improving heat dissipation from the engine bay.

Further modifications include a set of forged aluminium wheels – 19in in diametre up front and 20in at the rear. They are shod with new Dunlop Sport Maxx Race tyres, which are described as being developed specifically for the range-topping Mercedes-Benz model.

Despite the adoption of these lightweight features, AMG quotes the same 1620kg kerb weight as previous coupé models, endowing this latest variant with a power-to-weight ratio of 359bhp per tonne.   

Inside, the SLS AMG GT Final Edition receives quilted leather upholstery, carbonfibre trims and a liberal application of Alcantara – all from Mercedes-Benz’s Designo line of optional equipment. For all this you pay £189,880 in coupé guise as driven here, which seems excessive until you learn that early customers for the SLS AMG GT, without the carbonfibre exterior embellishments, trick wheels and more luxurious interior appointments, were originally quoted a price of  £180,485.

What's it like?

First off, it handles the urban environment extremely well. The low end flexibility of the engine and automatic nature of the gearbox in anything but manual mode sees the SLS AMG GT Final Edition make light work of stop/start traffic, while the compliance of the suspension when set in the first of two settings for the variable dampers allows you tool around town without too much compromise in comfort. Yes, it’s firm, but it manages to swallow potholes without any real harshness at low speeds.

Still, it is out on the open road where the SLS AMG has always excelled, and the same holds true of this final variant.

The engine remains the main attraction, endowing the brawny two seater with truly impressive pace, both from a standing start and through the gears. The low end flexibility that provides it with such docile qualities around town is more than matched by the ability of the engine at the business end of the scale. From around 5000rpm, the big V8 comes alive. The changes made to the inlet manifold give it a more free-revving nature than earlier incarnations of the SLS AMG, bar the Black Series, and with it a more focused nature.

Official figures put the 0-62mph time at 3.7sec, placing the GT Final Edition among some fairly exclusive machinery in terms of outright acceleration. You need to be well on the way towards its 199mph top speed before experiencing the added downforce brought on by the aerodynamic changes. There is a noticable reduction in front end lift, with greater longitudinal stability when you’re pushing along, making it a more agreeable proposition at high speeds on Germany’s unrestricted autobahns.     

It also possesses one of the finest exhaust notes ever. The big V8 emits a hearty baritone rumble at lower revs, growls with real intent through the mid-range and then explodes into an all-encompassing Nascar-like howl near its 7200rpm cut out. You’d buy one just on this quality alone.      

The hydraulic steering is engagingly direct, imparts a good deal of feel and can be depended upon for excellent turn-in properties. The overall balance has improved greatly over earlier examples of Mercedes-Benz’s modern day gullwing, providing the GT Final Edition with a significantly more fluid feel over challenging sections of blacktop.

The front end darts into corners with great enthusiasm, while the rear feels less likely to step out of line when you get on the throttle on the exit to corners. There is terrific purchase from the new tyres in dry conditions, although it demands a slow-in, fast-out technique before you get the best out of the chassis.

Should I buy one?

After five years of production and over 10,000 sales worldwide, the SLS AMG has come of age. The GT Final Edition incorporates all the various know-how AMG has invested in its first dedicated sports car, and it shows. It is significantly improved on earlier versions of the SLS AMG, providing a more balanced blend of performance and handling and everyday usability.  

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Final Edition

Price £189,080; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Top speed 199mph; Economy 21.4mpg (combined); CO2 308g/km; Kerb weight 1620kg; Engine V8, 6208cc, petrol; Installation Front, longitudinal, RWD; Power 583bhp at 6800rpm; Torque 479lb ft at 4750rpm; Gearbox 6-speed dual-clutch automatic

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Comments
3

10 April 2014
Autocar wrote:

the SLS AMG has come of age

Ironic as the styling changes look like the work of a 12 year old with a Halfords loyalty card. The centre console? Amstrad at it's finest.

 

10 April 2014
I remember when a black bonnet, on a car painted another colour, usually indicated it had been replaced, after the original got bent or rusted through and the owner was too skint to get it painted.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

10 April 2014
So it has diamond patten leather- wow! so it's like a Vauxhall Vignale?

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