2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Click image to enlarge

Related links
More Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG reviews on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG may have been the worst choice for our relaxed summer tour of Niagara wine country.

To clarify, this is by no means a slag on Mercedes-Benz’s brilliant reinterpretation of its legendary 1955 300SL Gullwing. In fact, this retro-modern projectile is worth every penny of its $198,000 asking price, in my opinion.

It’s just that my wife, Claire, bless her heart, has a slight aversion to sudden g-forces of the lateral and linear variety; and bellowing V8’s; and heavy right feet. She also has no problem expressing her distaste for hooliganism at the wheel by jabbing said offender in the right shoulder with great swiftness.

Thus my conundrum.

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Click image to enlarge

You see, as soon as that gullwing door swung shut I discovered an additional passenger within. That would be the Devil, perched on my left shoulder and goading me towards all kinds of wickedness. “Come on you wimp, plant it! What’s a night on the couch?” It didn’t help that this car was jet black. Temptation, I know thy name.

While the SLS’s party trick is a pair of roof-hinged doors, it’s what lives under that long hood that gives Beelzebub such sway – an AMG-designed, 563-hp 6,208 cc, naturally-aspirated V8 that brings 469 lb.-ft. of torque to the party.

If ever a car could justify its price on sound alone, the SLS AMG might be the one. Pressing the start button on the centre console awakens the hand-built V8, bringing it to an ominous idle. Blip the throttle and the revs jump like there’s no flywheel. From there on it bellows like the hounds of hell, wailing to a metallic 7,250 rpm redline.

But it doesn’t stop here. On overrun, there is a cacophony of burbles, blats and pops spewing from the twin tailpipes that only a conservatively muffled large-displacement bent-eight can provide.

Hell yeah!

2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Click image to enlarge

As we burbled our way along the bucolic roads of wine country, I told the devil to shut his cake hole, respected Claire’s wishes (and her left jab) and relied on my memory of past road and track experiences in the SLS AMG to enliven the drive.

Despite its appearance, sound and layout, the 2011 SLS AMG is not an untamed rear-drive beast waiting to bite you at the first opportunity. Sure, it’s not the dynamic equal of a Porsche Turbo S or Audi R8, but its brand of retro-brutish performance is easily accessible. It is neutrally balanced, shows astounding grip and very quick turn in. With the standard limited-slip rear differential, you can put the power down hard and early when exiting corners.

And that long hood is not just for show – the dry-sump V8 is nestled low and well back behind the front wheels. It connects to the new 7-speed dual-clutch rear transaxle (developed in conjunction with Getrag) via a 167 cm carbon-fibre drive shaft. The SLS brags a 48/52 front to rear weight bias.

Connect with Autos.ca