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2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS-Class Overview

Mercedes-Benz's new SLS AMG, the sole occupant of the automaker's 2011 SLS-Class, certainly stands out in a crowd, thanks to its distinctive bullet-like shape and upward-opening gullwing doors, a throwback to the iconic Mercedes 300SL sports car of the early 1950s. Built from the ground up by AMG, Mercedes' in-house sports tuner, the 2011 SLS AMG complies with GT3 race-car specifications created by the FIA, or Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, an international association governing prestigious racing events. In other words, underneath the SLS's sleek exterior beats the heart of a true racer.

The low, wide SLS-Class SLS AMG sits on a new, specially designed lightweight aluminum frame. Outside, the coupe displays numerous design elements providing both form and function, including side air vents located just behind the front wheel arches, side skirts with cooling ducts for the rear brakes, a front central cooling air vent beneath the open-mouthed grille, and a smooth underbody with a rear diffuser. Working together, all these exterior components help ensure cool operation, an aerodynamic shape, and maximum downforce to keep the SLS AMG firmly planted to the ground.

Other exterior features include bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED foglights, and flat LED taillights. A rear spoiler, integrated into the trunk lid, deploys automatically when the car reaches 75 mph.

A 571-hp, 6.2-liter V8 drives the SLS-Class's sole trim. The engine generates 467 lb-ft of torque and links up with a seven-speed AMG Speedshift sports transmission. The dual-clutch gearbox, developed specifically for the SLS AMG, operates as both an automatic and a manual. Working with the V8, it drives the street racer from 0-60 in just 3.8 seconds and to a top speed of 196 mph.

A double-wishbone suspension and rack-and-pinion steering with speed-sensitive turn assistance help ensure a firm, sporty ride and agile handling. In addition, drivers can adjust the car's springs, shock absorbers, suspension height, and other factors for a tighter, more track-like ride. Unique AMG 19-inch light-alloy wheels with performance tires and a composite-steel racing-inspired braking system provide grip and stopping power in the most extreme situations.

The gullwing doors swing up in a 70-degree arc, providing wide, easy access to the interior. The doors open in less sideways space than a common car door, and are designed to open safely inside a typical garage with a ceiling of normal height.

Inside, twin AMG sport seats, made from magnesium, are positioned low and close to the ground, adding to the race-car feel, while an aircraft-inspired interior design theme results in a wide-open feel. The dashboard resembles an aircraft wing, while the instrument cluster draws its inspiration from a jet's console. Interior highlights include an AMG Performance leather-clad steering wheel, keyless start, a Thermotronic climate-control system, cruise control with Speedtronic, and the Parktronic rear parking system. Owners can add such options as a Bang and Olufsen sound system, designo leather upholstery, and a 6-DVD changer. Safety features include eight airbags.


Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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