Skip to content


CAR Reviews

Click Thumbnails to Enlarge


How much? £150,000
On sale in the UK: July 2010
Engine: 6208cc 48v V8 petrol, 563bhp @ 6800rpm, 479lb ft @ 4750rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch semi-auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 3.8 sec 0-62mph, 197mph, 21.4 mpg, 308g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1620kg/aluminium
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4638/1939/1262
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 5 out of 55


Rated 4 out of 54


Rated 5 out of 55


Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 5 out of 55

Readers' rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review

By Gavin Green (main image photography by Mark Bramley)

First Drives

12 November 2009 10:35

>> Read on for Gavin Green's verdict on the Mercedes SLS AMG, and pick up the new December 2009 issue of CAR Magazine - out Wednesday 18 November - to see how the SLS matches up against Porsche's new 911 Turbo and Nissan's GT-R in our exclusive group test.

Mercedes-Benz is on a roll. After the excellent new C-class and E-class saloons – proper Benzes, as opposed to BMW wannabes – now comes the most eagerly waited new sports car since… well, since last week’s launch of the Ferrari 458 Italia, and the previous month’s unveiling of the McLaren MP4-12C, and the previous month’s brilliant new Porsche 911 Turbo. So much for the prophets of gloom, foretelling the death of the supercar!

This Mercedes SLS AMG is most famous for its doors, which is a little weird. First up, do those gullwings work?

They do – though there is no benefit to ingress and egress compared with usual front-hinged doors. These roof-hinged doors are commendably light – as with the rest of the car’s skin, they are made from aluminium – so they’re easy to open and close. The only trick is to grab the door handle on the way in. The door is too high to grab once you’re seated.

They could have fitted electric doors, but that would have added weight in the very place you don’t want it – up in the roof, where the electronic actuation would have been sited. Weight paring was a priority, which is right and proper for a sports car.

OK enough about doors. Is it supercar fast?

You bet. Top speed is electronically governed to 197mph (you wonder what’s the point of stopping the fun at almost 200mph?) and 0-62 is dispatched in only 3.8 seconds. The big 6.2 V8 revs hard, woofles pleasingly when touring, bellows like a bull elephant under hard acceleration, and all the time the soundtrack is backed by that lovely V8 rumble. When it’s on full song, an SLS sounds like a NASCAR stocker at full chat on the banks of Darlington. It’s marvellous music.

The only slight surprise is the lack of big punch at low revs – you need to get the engine spinning before it really delivers.

Gearchange is by a seven-speed dual clutch paddleshift box, which changes fast and smooth. If you fancy lazy-man motoring, it will happily and smoothly drift along in automatic.

The engine is based on the same 6.3 engine (actually 6208cc) used in the C63 and E63 AMG models – except for inlet and exhaust systems, different valves and the dry sump engine.  Power is also boosted – up by over 100bhp compared with a C63.      

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Mercedes SLS AMG first drive 

Mercedes SLS AMG protoype testing; Performance Car of the Year 2009 Mercedes E63 AMG - time trial; McLaren MP4-12C air-brake; Mercedes Gullwing spy video; 2008; car; CAR Magazine; cars; Gullwing; mercedes; mercedes gullwing; Sportcars; Supercars; Mercedes SLK scoop; Mercedes night vision up Stelvio pass; Mercedes-Benz at the Geneva motor show 2009; McLaren P11 scooped; McLaren; mercedes; p11; scoop; secret new car; Supercar; Lewis Hamiltons ultimate F1 circuit; F1; favourite circuits; Formula 1; lewis hamilton; McLaren; supercar circuit; Mercedes SL65 AMG Black series commercial; CAR Online; car videos; mercedes amg black; Mercedes SL65 AMG Black series commercial; sl 65; Mercedes SL65 AMG Black series Bernd Schneider driving; amg black; bernd schneider; mercedes amg black; Mercedes SL65 AMG Black series Bernd Schneider driving; Mercedes SLK55 AMG Black series; 2008; amg black series; car videos; Mercedes AMG; Mercedes SLK55 AMG Black series; SLK55; Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black series; AMG; car videos; clk63; Mercedes AMG; mercedes black series; Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black series; Lewis Hamilton interview; CAR Magazine; CAR Online; F1; Formula 1; Grand Prix; interview; lewis hamilton; BMW M3 v Mercedes C63 AMG v Lexus IS-F - three super-saloons battle it out on track; AMG; auto; bmw; c63; car; CAR Magazine; is-f; Lexus; lexus is-f; m3; mercedes; three super-saloon;; Mercedes E63 AMG scoop video; 2008 car spy video; Mercedes AMG; mercedes E63 amg; secret new cars; Mercedes SL63 road test; automotive; cars; Mercedes SL63; mercedes sl63 amg; BMW M3 v Mercedes C63 AMG v Lexus IS-F - three super-saloons battle it out on track; AMG; auto; bmw; c63; car; CAR Magazine; is-f; Lexus; lexus is-f; m3; mercedes; three super-saloon;; Mercedes CLC London Motor Show video; british international motor show; london motor show; mercedes; mercedes CLC; video; Mercedes CLK spy video; Mercedes Player

Rate this article...

Average rating: Rated 4 out of 54 (54 votes)

Discuss this

Add your comment

Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review


Your comment

By submitting your comment, you agree to adhere to the CAR Magazine website Terms and Conditions




reward badge

desf says

RE: Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review

There is one slight failure I can see. I know that supercars main purpose isn't carrying luggage, but with sucha a layout (engine in the front 2 seats in the middle) you would expect a perfect gran tourer. And what you get? Car without rear bench and boot so small that you can't even take anyone with you while going out for a weekend. Even 458 italia has bigger boot and (I think) rear bench and manages it while being mid-engined. Expet ths little practical failure (which wouldn't bother me much in mid-engined ferrar/lambo/mclaren but which does in Mercedes) this car looks (from both technical and design point of view) awesome. Only headlights could be changed a bit, not sure what, but something isn't correct with them.

21 December 2009 06:14



xjug1987 says

RE: Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review

Though the car is very special from a technology and the sheer brass it takes to build the car, its ugly and a duck.  It will not be remembered fondly 30 yrs from now.  Another German stumble along w/the new Audi A8.

04 December 2009 17:58



reward badge

PamelaS says

RE: Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review

I'd agree that the choice for a supercar has never been wider, and BMW will have little choice but respond to the latest Mercedes effort. The SLS isn't to my taste, but I've only seen it in photos. Press reports suggest it is low and wide but from the pictures it looks anything but. maybe it's better in the metal.

29 November 2009 17:32



reward badge

jacomoseven says

RE: Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review

@ Wittgenfrog,


Sorry, I couldn't disagree more. Mercedes certainly went through a poor decade, where the quality and desirability of their cars nose-dived, but you can't say that this SLS is not "engineering led".

It's got a similar drivetrain to the Ferrari Cali, which has garnered huge praise for its dynamics, and is clothed in aluminium with a functional, driver-orientated cockpit and good visibility.


I look forward to seeing this and the new McLaren go head to head, but one thing's for sure - they are both going to be much better than the SLR. That car was a conceptual mess and, whether it was McLaren's fault or not, they still agreed to sign it off and build the thing. That makes them equally culpable, in my book.


AMG have delivered a much, much more compelling car. So you think it's ugly - so what? At least it's different, and offers a genuine choice in this glorious segment.


For anyone with £150k or so to spend on a car in the next couple of years, I can enviously say - you've never had it so good. Sexy Ferrari, brilliant Lambo, an Aston tailored to almost any spec you want, a McLaren with a point to prove, or a deranged muscle car built by some of the best engineers in Germany - what a choice!

17 November 2009 20:47



reward badge

wittgenfrog says

RE: Mercedes SLS AMG (2009) CAR review

The contrast between the new McLaren (can't do with its alphabet soup 'name')  and this Mercedes  highlight for me why the two companies have parted company.   McLaren is an 'engineering' company, through and through, doubtless as a consequence of having Ron Dennis at its head.    

All McLaren's divisions aspire to being the uncompromising best in their respective fields.   McLaren is innovation led.


Mercedes seems to be mired in an increasingly outdated marketing led business model.    Mercedes presumably employs dozens of brilliant engineers and designers, vastly more than McLaren.

In Super Car terms they seem to spend their time developing cars that the Marketing Department tells them are wanted.   This car is heavy, lumpen, grotesquely ugly (the McLaren isn't in Mona Lisa territory, but its at the very least innofensive) .  In short this Merc horribly bland and unimaginative.   It explores nothing new technologically either: big lump oodles of BHP and torque etc etc etc....

17 November 2009 11:41

Become a CAR contributor

Upload stories, photos or videos direct to the site, or email

Alternatively, call 01733 468 485 (+ 44 1733 468 485)

CAR magazine Feb issue
Untitled Document

Become a CAR contributor

Seen a secret new car, fabulous exotic or have news we should publish? Then get in touch now.