Finally, there’s the sound. This is my favorite bit. Imagine a telephone directory, its pages made of thin sheets of metal. Rip it apart. That’s how raspy and violent, yet somehow cultured, the SLS engine sounds. There’s no excess overrun noise from the exhaust, no shriek from the induction system. Since the V8 engine is pushed far back, the transaxle rear sits right under my soft rump, wriggling my tubby rear end each time the 295/30 R20 Continental SportContacts— matched with 265/35 R19 fronts— meet road ruts. The 6.3-liter, four- cam, 32-valve V8 is used on a variety of AMG models in different states of tune due to variances in ECU programming and exhaust piping. The SLS, however, has the most powerful tune from the factory: an amazing 563 horses and 649Nm of torque, revving to 7,200rpm with dry-sump lubrication.
Mated to it is Merc’s excellent seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that shifts as smoothly as a conventional automatic. What’s amazing, though, is that the engine is physically very small and is pushed well back, almost residing under the dashboard. This helps give the SLS AMG an amazing 48-percent-front/52- percent-rear weight balance.
There are four driving modes to select via the Drive-Unit button on the center console. ‘C’ stands for ‘controlled efficiency’, in which the car sets off in second gear. ‘S’ (sport) rips off shifts that are 20 percent faster, while ‘S+’ (sport- plus) is again 20 percent quicker. ‘M’ (manual) is a full 50 percent faster than ‘C’. A launch-control system is also on hand. I decide to go with S+, because you need all the concentration you can get revving the SLS to redline and keeping up with the manic acceleration without worrying about shifting.
The SLS accelerates like a bat out of hell. Showing it some corners, it turns in with amazing alacrity, the rear end rotating faster as you press the throttle. The rear mechanical limited-slip differential helps with maneuverability and with putting power down to the ground, aided by a three-step electronic traction and stability control that adjusts with the driving mode. There is urgency to the steering and suspension, an almost telepathic connection you never thought a Merc would have with you. The ride is firm and reassuring especially under hard acceleration, but livable for everyday use. The trunk is even big enough to fit most bags, possibly even a small golf bag. I’m sure Mercedes will offer a golf bag in its lifestyle collection precisely for the SLS boot.
Parking the car in the middle of Bonifacio High Street on a busy weekend, I step out and leave both gullwing doors wide open, and people gawk and stare, wondering if I’m some celebrity or scum of the earth. When they see me, they quickly refocus on the SLS.
If you ever get a chance to see one (at the very least), beg the owner to rev that fantastic engine. It is one of the best ever made.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Price: P18,000,000 (est.)
Engine: 6.3-liter quad-cam V8
Power: 563hp @ 6,800rpm
Torque: 649Nm @ 4,750rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
We say: It is a supercar to the core, and all the good things you read about are true. Damn, it’s the reincarnation of a legend!