A long hood has always implied a car's ability to dispense ample power. That implication usually comes with something else: a lofty sticker price.
So check out the length of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Roadster's hood. Now take a gander at its base price: $206,000.
For the uninitiated, the SLS AMG debuted in 2010 with a look that pays homage to the rarefied 1954-62 Mercedes-Benz 300SL and delivers equally beguiling performance. It's a mesmerizing four-wheel missile, one that will make you wish that you had gone to law school. Especially this year.
Because for 2013, along with adding two letters to the SLS AMG's name, the folks at Mercedes-Benz's AMG performance division added an extra 20 ponies under the hood. With 583 horsepower on tap from its 6.3-liter V-8, 0 to 60 mph takes a mere 3.5 seconds. Zero to "sorry, officer" takes just a wee bit longer. And just imagine the fine you'll be paying. After all, it can reach 197 mph.
See? I told you. Law school.
Of course, to do that, you'll want to lower the top. Like the car's acceleration, this happens quickly. How quickly? Count to 11. The top will be stowed. Now the wind can lightly tousle your hair as this car captures your soul.
Power comes on effortlessly, as if unleashing the hounds of hell. You'll hear their fury as the exhaust growls and barks with a lethal yelp. Forget the audio system; this is the only music you'll ever need. This car is so much fun to drive, even 0 to 30 mph is an event. Going to the corner for a gallon of milk has never been so much fun – or taken so little time.
You'd expect this car's shifts to come quickly and imperceptibly, and they do, thanks to the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. As the name implies, this gearbox has two clutches: one for odd-numbered gears, the other for even-numbered gears. At the exact moment one clutch is engaged, the other is being disengaged. Conventional transmissions have one clutch. As it disengages from one gear and engages another, there's a brief interruption in power. With the dual-clutch gearbox, one of the two clutches is always engaged, so power is never interrupted. That makes a big difference when pouring on the power.
Such power brings with it excessive thirst and some may find this car's fuel economy wasteful. Let me say this: If dinosaurs had to give up their lives, this would be the perfect reason for their extinction. At the same time, I wonder if this car is a last monument to power, itself a dinosaur, before the tightening grip of federal fuel economy requirements render it extinct.
Of course, it's hard to ponder such serious philosophical questions with the top down, the engine howling, the wind blasting and your soul giggling with the delight of a child who has just been given his or her first puppy.
Toss this roadster into a corner and you'll find the steering is quick, nicely weighted and that body roll is nonexistent. Just what you'd expect for the price. For those who like to drive hard and fast, the SLS AMG GT delivers its performance with hard-body precision. But thankfully, opting for this model means more than speed and handling; it also means an exquisite veneer of civility. Just nestle in the firmly bolstered seats finished in sumptuous diamond-quilted leather. What a lovely throne from which to rule the road. And, like other topless vehicles that wear the three-pointed star, the SLS AMG GT Roadster has "Airscarf," a heating system that blows warm air from vents mounted under the head restraints.
Such lavish features are well represented on the interior, and that's to be expected. After all, the 2013 SLS AMG GT Roadster is meant as a distant successor to the original 300SL and, as such, is the very best that Mercedes-Benz can offer.
Clearly this car's long hood delivers on its promise. It has the power to overpower your will as well as the road.
If you need proof, just take it for a test drive on the type of day that would make the local chamber of commerce proud. It's then that you'll realize that if you've been good in life, someday, you'll end up behind the wheel of an SLS AMG GT Roadster with the top down on a sunny, 75-degree day.
2013 MERCEDES-BENZ SLS AMG GT ROADSTER
–Engine: 6.3-liter DOHC V-8
–Wheelbase: 105.5 inches
–Length: 182.6 inches
–Weight: 3,573 pounds
–Cargo space: 6.2 cubic feet
–EPA rating (city/highway): 13/19 mpg
–Fuel type: Premium
–Base price: $206,000
–As tested: Not available
ABOUT THE WRITER
Larry Printz is automotive editor at The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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