2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Buyers beware. If you’re thinking of adding the striking and brutal Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG to your stable, this new GT version, which is the only iteration we get in North America (the “regular-grade” car is still available in Europe) has been tuned to be more track ready and leaves much of its civility at the door.

Not that this gull-winged Germanic instrument of land-based velocity ever had a gentle side. Just firing up the epic 6.2L V8 announces to the world that the big-bore, naturally aspirated bent-eight is king – for now.

It rumbles, barks and send an ominous vibration through the cabin at idle. Blip the throttle and you’d think there was no flywheel. Bloody rude, and truly fantastic.

But like all ruthless kings, this 6,208 cc monarch is about to be deposed. So please, while we can, let’s all genuflect to this mighty engine – the first fully in-house creation of AMG. In fact, the whole car is an AMG project from wheels to wings.

 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT. Click image to enlarge

AMG is downsizing to smaller turbocharged V8s, and this 6.2L monster that once powered almost every AMG vehicle is now only found in the C 63 AMG and SLS.

So run out and buy the bargain priced and terrific C 63 AMG – RIGHT NOW! But I digress…

Here in the 2013 SLS AMG GT, the hand-built V8 gets a bump of 20 horses to 583 hp and torque rises 10 lb-ft to 479. Pretty academic stuff, really. It was stupid fast before, and so it remains.

The rear-mounted seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has been revised to provide a smoother experience around town. Without a comparison to the previous model, I can’t say I notice a huge difference. In stop-and-go traffic it seems pretty docile, if a bit jerky at times. Not quite as smooth as Porsche’s seven-speed PDK.

AMG claims that in Sport and Sport+ modes the gearbox becomes more in tune with the driver’s wishes, and for the few moments where I did manage to lean on this brute just wee little bit over some curvy roads, the tranny did indeed perform multiple downshifts, hang on to gears when it should have, and hammer the upshifts with lightning speed.

Manual mode is just that – it won’t upshift until you send the command from those lovely alloy paddles. Perfect for cruising around the ‘hood in second gear with the exhaust howling, popping and crackling. Who… me?

And now to the biggest change – the firmer AMG Adaptive Performance Suspension. The outgoing model had a Comfort setting. No more. Now there is just Sport and Sport+ to choose from. Or as I liked to call them: Super-Stiff and Jeeeezuz-These-Germans-Do-Have-A-Sense-Of-Humour.

This setup is probably tolerable on the unblemished German roads, and likely will pay off on a (smooth) race track, but here in the real world the SLS AMG GT crashes, bucks and pitches over anything less than perfect pavement. It can be downright tiring.

Fortunately, on escaping the city, I headed to Huron County where the roads are smooth (yay) but dead straight (boo).

Base price for the SLS AMG GT Coupe is $217,900. This tester had a $7,000 Bang & Olufsen upgrade that sounded pretty good when the car was stationary. With the omnipresent sound of that V8 plus tire noise, this super coupe is hardly an ideal acoustic environment.

 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT. Click image to enlarge

SLS ingress and egress is not a particularly graceful affair. There is a wide sill to negotiate and those black leather and red stitched seats are a long way down. I’m about six-foot, and can just reach the grab handle on the door when seated. Anyone shorter has to pull the door down while they are sliding in – a href=”http://www.autos.ca/motorsports-customization/feature-mercedes-benz-driving-academy-mastering-performance/”>or ask for help.

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