In-depth reviews

Mercedes SLS AMG (2010-2015) review

The flagship Mercedes SLS AMG supercar has a thumping V8 engine and gullwing doors that add a sense of occasion to every drive

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Stunning looks, incredible soundtrack, exclusive gullwing doors
  • Not as engaging to drive as its rivals, high running costs, depreciation

The Mercedes SLS AMG – renamed SLS AMG GT in late 2012 – is the kind of car you spend a lottery win on, mainly because it has a fabulous set of gullwing doors. Oh, and the fact it has a thunderous 6.3-litre V8 engine under the bonnet. It's not particularly sophisticated, though, and is better suited to high-speed cruising and driving like a hooligan than being threaded down twisty back roads. What's more, you can have the sharper handling McLaren 12C for the same money, while a Ferrari 458 Italia is not much more. But then neither of those have gullwing doors, do they?

Engines, performance and drive

If you want a car that makes you grin like an idiot, the Mercedes SLS is it. Just starting up the 583bhp 6.3-litre V8 is enough to have you giggling, and when you floor the throttle in a tunnel, your ears will be greeted by the kind of thunderous V8 soundtrack usually heard at a NASCAR race. Lift off, and there are some hilarious pops and bangs from the exhaust. With a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 199mph, the SLS is very nearly as fast as a Ferrari 458 Italia. It feels very big and wide around corners, so it's not as engaging but it's still lots of fun to drive. The GT model benefits from firmer suspension, which means a harsher ride but that the car stays flatter in the bends. The seven-speed auto ‘box was a weak point on early cars, but revised software on the GT model makes shifts faster and smoother.

MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

Mercedes officially claims 21.4mpg for the SLS, but you will be lucky to get more than 15mpg even in regular driving, while servicing, road tax (it emits 308g/km of CO2) and insurance costs will be astronomical, too. That's no different to any other supercar at this price point though. What you must be even more wary of is depreciation - in the first year of ownership, you can expect an SLS AMG to lose £50,000 off its value. Frightening.

Interior, design and technology

The Mercedes SLS AMG is an incredible piece of design. We love the long bonnet, the huge vents down the side and the pert tail. But we love those amazing gullwing doors the most. They're opened by subtle flip-out handles, and although you have to stretch a little bit to close them when seated, it's worth the effort. The SLS is available in a wide variety of colours, but should you have a spare £10,000 or so, you can have it in an amazing satin matte-effect finish. Inside, there are stunning jet-engine air vents, beautifully trimmed leather seats (with quilted leather and red stitching in the faster GT version) and classy metal trim. The GT version also adds darkened light clusters, red brake callipers and the option of red seatbelts.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

The Mercedes SLS AMG is pretty much 70 per cent bonnet. That means that the cabin is quite cramped, with just enough space for two. The boot is tinier than a VW up!'s with just 176 litres of luggage space, so you'd better pack light if you want to go away for the weekend. Think squashy bags not suitcases. Despite a wide sill, it's quite easy to get into the SLS, even if you do have to reach up to close the doors. Be careful in multi-storey car parks with low roofs, otherwise you might end up with some nasty scratches.

Reliability and Safety

It's a flagship hand-built Mercedes, so the SLS AMG is certainly safe. It has lots of airbags, traction control (with two stages of electronic intervention), adaptive cruise control as well as a fatigue monitoring system that can spot if you're about to fall asleep at the wheel. As if you would. Build quality is fantastic, and although the SLS is far from simple, it's likely to be just as reliable as it's cousin, the SL63 AMG. Mercedes finished an impressive eighth as a brand in the 2012 Driver Power survey, too.

More on SLS AMG

Mercedes SLS AMG Final Edition review
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster
18 May 2014

Mercedes SLS AMG Final Edition review

Limited-edition Mercedes SLS AMG Final Edition takes flagship supercar out with a bang
Mercedes SLS AMG GT
Mercedes SLS AMG GT front tracking
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
1 May 2013

Mercedes SLS AMG GT

We drive the Mercedes SLS AMG GT, which gets a 6.3-litre V8 with 583bhp and 650Nm of torque
Mercedes SLS AMG GT and Black Series prices
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
22 Apr 2013

Mercedes SLS AMG GT and Black Series prices

Mercedes announces prices for the new SLS AMG GT and Black Series starting at £165,030 for the GT
Mercedes SLS Electric Drive
Mercedes SLS Electric Drive front tracking
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
7 Mar 2013

Mercedes SLS Electric Drive

The Mercedes SLS Electric Drive delivers 730bhp and costs £333,000
Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series
Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series front tracking
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
1 Mar 2013

Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series

The Mercedes SLS Black comes with 622bhp and a £230k price tag
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster (2011 to 2015) review
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster front
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster
30 Jan 2013

Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster (2011 to 2015) review

The Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster does away with the coupe's gullwing doors, letting you hear the rumble from the 6.3-litre V8
Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive unveiled
Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive at Paria
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
27 Sep 2012

Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive unveiled

Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive gets four-wheel drive and 730bhp
Mercedes SLS Roadster vs Porsche 911
Mercedes SLS Roadster vs Porsche 911
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
9 Jan 2012

Mercedes SLS Roadster vs Porsche 911

It’s time to bring out the big guns, as the Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster meets the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabrio
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster panning
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
21 Sep 2011

Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster

We try drop-top version of Mercedes' flagship supercar. Does it still convince without those amazing gullwing doors?
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster vs 300 SLS
Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster vs 300 SLS
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
19 Aug 2011

Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster vs 300 SLS

German giant’s epic new drop-top comes face-to-face with its Fifties forebear
SLS AMG vs Aston Martin Virage
Aston Martin Virage vs Mercedes SLS AMG
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
27 May 2011

SLS AMG vs Aston Martin Virage

They’re two of the most stylish cars money can buy, but is Aston Martin’s new thoroughbred Virage a better grand tourer than the Mercedes SLS AMG?
Mercedes SLS AMG E-cell
Mercedes SLS AMG E-cell
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
3 Dec 2010

Mercedes SLS AMG E-cell

Electric supercar takes battery power to next level. We drive it
Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
1 Oct 2010

Mercedes SLS AMG GT3

We take to the track for a drive in the most hardcore SLS yet to see if it can live up to Mercedes rich motorsport history.
Mercedes SLS AMG Brabus
Mercedes SLS AMG Brabus
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
27 Aug 2010

Mercedes SLS AMG Brabus

Supercar is even hotter, with more power, less weight and meaner looks!
Mercedes SLS E-Cell
Mercedes SLS E-Cell
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
25 Jun 2010

Mercedes SLS E-Cell

Mercedes is charging in to shake up the supercar class – and we take the wheel of amazing battery-powered E-Cell.
Mercedes SLS AMG
Mercedes SLS AMG
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
11 Jun 2010

Mercedes SLS AMG

We hit the road to see if storming gullwing coupé can soar into the supercar elite
Mercedes SLS flies PAN-AM
Mercedes SLS flies PAN-AM
Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe
6 Apr 2010

Mercedes SLS flies PAN-AM

We trace route of legendary Carrera Panamericana road race in stunning new supercar