The Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster: Is no roof better than Gullwing doors?
A totally legitimate question... Three years ago, I had the chance to drive and review one of my favorite cars ever; the Mercedes-Benz SLS. Back then, the production already ended to let place to the AMG GT. To be honest, I think the SLS has a much stronger cool factor than its successor. The SLS is more powerful than the standard AMG GT, better looking, and it has these iconic Gullwing doors. These doors may be some of the coolest we have ever seen on a production car. Yet, the SLS Roadster, which arrived two years later in 2011, only came with regular doors. Yes, because it is physically impossible to have Gullwing doors if you only have a soft top. And this is kind of a problem for me...
You see, the SLS is actually not that good of a sports car. It's a complete hooligan that doesn't corner that well, and it is freaking massive. It makes the Porsche 911 look like a Chihuahua. On the other hand, I would buy this car just for its looks and because it's ballistically fast. The SLS AMG is an “homage” to the legendary 300 SL from the 1950s. Both vehicles share some similarities, especially the Gullwing doors. Yes, they are useless and unpractical, and if somebody from Mercedes-Benz ever tries to argue that these doors have been engineered to facilitate your entry in the car, he’s a liar. So forget discretion, and forget getting out of the car in style. These doors are all about the looks. And it is something I regret not seeing on the Roadster. They bring a distinctive WOW effect that a lot of other supercars do not offer, and that's what makes the SLS so unique. The solution? Mercedes-Benz should have installed the same door system as on the SLR Mclaren Roadster. Boom! Problemo solved.
The SLS Roadster may not have fancy doors, but it has no roof, and that shouldn't be ignored. Driving around in a 571 horsepower-cabriolet in the summertime is always quite fun. There is always something special about cabriolets, especially when you have the beautiful sound of the 6.2-litres V8 to listen to. Even though many will argue that coupes look prettier than cabriolets, I think the SLS Roadster looks beautiful with that long hood, low windscreen and short back.
And how is it like to drive? With 1'735kg on the balance, the SLS Roadster isn't what you would call a lightweight. It's about 40 kg heavier than the coupe, and just like the latter, the roadster is a dragster. Floor it at your own risk. It's a car that can be very civilized if you just cruise, but it will definitely try to kill you if you mess around with it. The SLS is a kind of car you will never find again. It is not very quiet, it destroys tires, it is the true essence of impracticality. But this is what we, petrolheads want. The SLS was not developed to have the comfort of an S-Class, the practicality of a GLE, or the efficiency of… a Blue Efficiency. No! It was designed to be cool and fun. To put it into perspective, its successor, the AMG GT is a far better car in terms of engineering. Better cornering, efficiency, and stability. But it lacks some craziness that the SLS has to spare.
In today's world, the SLS feels like a dinosaur, and it will be missed. It's a sports car that made little sense, and that's why I fell in love with it. To answer the initial question about Gullwing doors or open top, I would say that it all comes down to what you prefer. The ultimate solution would be to get both. In my opinion, the SLS coupe is the better option just because of the design, and these doors. Also, Mercedes-Benz has produced more Roadsters and this can have an impact on their value once they become classics. Yes, I genuinely believe the SLS is a future classic, even though over 10'000 units have been produced. Just like the 300 SL, the SLS has become an icon. And I am only talking about the base version here. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz developed even sportier versions like the GT and the Black Series, but these have become out of reach these last couple of years. The standard SLS still is quite expensive, but it seems worth it, and we could totally imagine prices reaching new heights the more time passes by. My advice to you, if you have CHF 150'000 to spare, buy yourself a piece of automobile history. The SLS'll do.
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Mercedes-benz SLS AMG Roadster
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Perego Cars garage located between Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, for letting me review this car.