What is it?
I know what you’re thinking. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG roadster: the open top version of one of the most sought-after supercars on sale in the UK right now. It’s low, sleek and sufficiently stylish to stop pedestrians in their tracks, but it can’t possibly compete with the SLS coupé with the way it drives, right?
It is a preconception that has been built around many a high-priced open-top, but in this case it doesn’t apply because while the SLS roadster lacks the aluminium roof of the SLS coupé, it doesn’t suffer for it.
What's it like?
With no exaggeration, the roadster is an even more convincing proposition to drive than the coupé. Of course, there’s masses of grip and it stops with great conviction, but where the soft-top really presses its case are in more subtle areas of its handling repertoire, many of which are improved over the fixed-roof model.
The engineering changes Mercedes has made to counter the loss of rigidity caused by the absence of a fixed roof provide the SLS roadster with an even more fluid feel to its handling than the coupé. Pushed hard, it feels better balanced and, with its overzealous traction control turned off, it is nothing short of sublime. The SLS roadster possesses better body control and greater levels of feedback than the coupé, and if there is any lack of rigidity it is never felt. Its ride characteristics are vastly improved, too. In fact, the modifications are so successful that Mercedes is planning to bring them to the coupé as a running change for the 2012 model year.