Introduction - 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster: Introduction

January 11, 2013

When it rains, it pours.

Earlier this week we introduced what we thought was a pretty snazzy new long-term car. A $109,000, 350-horsepower Porsche 911 Cabriolet, a car widely considered one of the finest on the planet.

And now this.

This is a very red 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, and it's the newest member of our long-term test fleet. It's ours for six months and, hopefully, 20,000 miles.

What We Got
The SLS Roadster is one of the most livable supercars around. Instead of some super-exotic powertrain, it's got the kind of V8 that Mercedes has been weaponizing for years. Many of its interior bits are shared across the Mercedes family and are thus logical, functional and easy to use. It even ditches the theatrical gullwing doors of the SLS AMG Coupe.

Our 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster features a naturally aspirated, dry-sump 6.2-liter V8 engine sitting right behind the front axle line. This motor, hand built in Affalterbach by the crack team at AMG, kicks out a screaming 563 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and twists out 479 pound-feet of the good stuff at 4,750 rpm. Power goes straight to the 295/30R20 rear tires via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and an AMG limited-slip differential.

Its interior is highlighted by a COMAND head unit with navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, dual-zone climate control, Parktronic parking sensors, keyless entry and start, eight airbags, AMG-tuned stability control, blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera. Roadster models of the SLS are also fitted with Mercedes' unique AirScarf as standard. This feature employs a small vent near the top of each seat to blow warm air over the neck and shoulders of the occupants and is also optional on the rest of Mercedes' convertible models.

With a starting price of $196,100, the SLS AMG Roadster isn't even close to the most expensive car Mercedes sells in the U.S. (that honor goes to the CL65 AMG at $213,200 followed by the S65 AMG, which starts at $212,000). And forget about it as the most expensive car Mercedes sells worldwide. That would be the otherworldly G65 AMG. And none of those have half this car's street cred.

This car was provided by Mercedes-Benz and it arrived wearing plenty of options and 14,386 miles already on the clock. First up is its most noticeable option, the $2,300 AMG Le Mans Red paint. It's handsome and surprisingly subtle for such a bold car.

Further spending included $12,500 for the AMG carbon-ceramic brakes; $5,400 for a carbon-fiber engine compartment cover; the carbon-fiber interior trim costs $4,500; AMG Performance Media is $2,500; 10-spoke, 19/20-inch AMG wheels ring up another $3,400; the 1,000-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo — necessary to overpower the sound of the wind and the V8 — is a staggering $6,400. Gas-guzzler tax and destination add another $1,875.

Total damage: $242,675.

Why We Got It
We have a long history of testing exotics for extended periods of time. The idea is to prove whether they are real cars or just fragile toys. Previously, Audi loaned us a 2008 R8 for nine months and Dodge sent us 600 hp worth of 2009 Dodge Viper for 6 months. We put 22,000 miles on the R8 in nine months and managed a solid 14,000 in the Viper. When we bought a 2009 Nissan GT-R, we kept it for 15 months and managed 31,067 miles. In other words, we've done this before and we like to drive supercars very, very far in very little time. This time will be no different.

For 2013, the hot-rod SLS AMG GT is replacing the SLS AMG in the U.S. market. That car gets 20 more hp (583), a reworked transmission and a revised suspension. It also gets a moderate price hike. But 99.999999 percent of the car is unchanged, which makes our 2012 Roadster still worth evaluating.

Time can be a cruel mistress, with an uncanny ability to reveal truths veiled in temporary wonderment. In six months, will our lust for this two-seater have grown to love, or a strong desire to set it ablaze?

Follow along on our adventure as we try to put as many miles as possible on our new long-term 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster.

Current Odometer: 14,790
Best Fuel Economy: 17.1
Worst Fuel Economy: 12.5
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 15.2

The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor


  • firstshad0w firstshad0w Posts:

    About time you guys got an AMG! Looking forward to this long term test :)

  • benson2175 benson2175 Posts:

    Might even get used to this new format reading about this.

  • bassracerx bassracerx Posts:

    woot a loaner SCORE that means more cars for you to test considering the dent that 911 put in the budget. idk why but 2012 there was not a lot of cars that were lusty in their own way but not that many of them that i could see myself actually purchasing especially after the road tests. 2011 had several (fiat 500, mazda 2, mustang GT) and by the way you guys did not do the fiat 500 justice with your review after spending an extended 3 weeks with a fiat 500 rental i was compleatly smitten i almost bought one but the dealers were compleatly unreasonable for the few used ones locally and the closest dealer is 600 miles away. i ended up buying a honda fit wich is another car that auto journalists are crazy about and i can see the excitment but after driving it for myself you guys definently oversold it.

  • piredon piredon Posts:

    I hate you a very jealous way

  • rock2155 rock2155 Posts:

    Awesome start for the "new" Insideline! Now we only need larger pics and we would be all-set!

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:


  • isaacl isaacl Posts:

    Wow, while the acquisition of this thing is going to be interesting to follow... almost $250,000 for a long term tester huh? Wow, it makes sense now to see why the almighty click on is being pursued so hard. You need every dollar. My god.

  • bonzjr bonzjr Posts:

    My conclusion: to make up for the really really really (really!!) crappy new site, you're trying to bribe the readers and posters into coming back with exotic/expensive/interesting rides? Nice car. New layout still totally sucks. Fire you're 1990s web designers and go hire some junior high kids who like to code and design on the side.

  • jerry_minix jerry_minix Posts:

    2nd day of the new format and 2 exotic long term cars.... wow.

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    Okay, I'm seriously jealous. When is the next fan meet up? I may have to trek to Cali for it.

  • tubybntz tubybntz Posts:


  • Very nice car, and should be interesting to watch how it goes. And yes, you all need to upgrade this site. I cannot access the 2nd page of comments.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    This should be an interesting 6 months

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Wow I heard Mercedes usually doesn't do LT loans, and now they give you the best of the fleet. I LOVE the SLS. For anyone questioning if this transition to Edmunds will kill the content, just look at the fleet. This is one of the best fleets we've enjoyed in the 7ish years I've been around here. Please let me know when you drive this on GMR.

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    Did MB put any stipulations on the loan, such as no track days? You guys need to drive this in every way you can! Track it (video must be provided), canyon visits, meet&greets, the whole deal. Will you drive it like the old Z06, or baby it? Also, describe how it feels to go back driving the other sports cars after driving this one--letdown, or just a different flavor?

  • zr1man zr1man Posts:

    At almost a quarter of a million dollars it can't even keep up with a ZR1. I don't think it is worth it. On a side note, I am glad to see a lot of the former IL readers now commenting on the Edmund's site. I always said you would get used to the change.

  • yaymx5_ yaymx5_ Posts:

    Provided by manufacturer? Or, did edmunds pay out of pocket for this?

  • bassracerx bassracerx Posts:


  • vroom2 vroom2 Posts:

    So Mercedes gave you a $200K to play with for a year and we expect you to be impartial about your experiences? Does riding the Mercedes gravy train also affect your journalistic integrity when reviewing other MB products?

  • firstwagon firstwagon Posts:

    "On a side note, I am glad to see a lot of the former IL readers now commenting on the Edmund's site. I always said you would get used to the change." Think of it as trading in your new Cruze for an old Cobalt. You can used to it and it will do the job but everyday you're reminded that it's second rate. I go here once or twice a week now instead of once or twice a day. Judging by the low number of comments on cars that should be hot topics I can see I'm not the only one.

  • firstwagon firstwagon Posts:

    "On a side note, I am glad to see a lot of the former IL readers now commenting on the Edmund's site. I always said you would get used to the change." Think of it as trading in your new Cruze for an old Cobalt. You can used to it and it will do the job but everyday you're reminded that it's second rate. I go here once or twice a week now instead of once or twice a day. Judging by the low number of comments on cars that should be hot topics I can see I'm not the only one.

  • This, along with the 911 and the Jeep GC SRT8, are the type of long term vehicles that interest me. Sure Camrys and Accords have a lot of potential buyers out there, but for the most part, they are drama free and low cost of ownership. Educate us on how these dream machines do everyday and how expensive they are to own. Are they really out of reach or should they remain a dream for us 99%.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Firstwagon be that as it may I'm glad to see you're still sorta around here. I've always enjoyed reading your input and felt you were one of the key members of the old IL community. Hopefully in time the format will be given an IL-style extreme makeover and we'll be rewarded for giving this a shot. Change takes time to iron out the issues.

  • jpnpower jpnpower Posts:

    I'm also glad that the others have made it. (those others are probably not glad that I'm back. *grumble*)

  • jpnpower jpnpower Posts:

    Dear Edmunds, the cars are nice. yeah 911 yeah sls, but I want my IL back. Would I trade a 911 LT blog for propper blogs? sure! Wil I trade an SLS long term for propper comments? Definitely. Remember what made you special, and don't turn into just another hi price car site. You had awesome car news. Now what! Just today I hear from google that there is a new Lexus IS. No Edmunds news article on that. unacceptable. Make the site better and auto-shows more accessible. More IL like. I'll say it again, and I think that at least some of the people here agree. Good job with the supercars, now take a break and give us a propper site.

  • gilchy gilchy Posts:

    This car is not a ZR1 competitor. If every vehicle was judged solely on $/lap time, nothing would measure up to leaderbikes. Excited to read about this car!

  • I feel compelled to second what bonzjr just posted...... I miss that clean/ modern/ young look of the insideline page. looks aside,... edmunds is still way more bad-[non-permissible content removed] then the others. You website could reflect that cool vibe just as your Santa Monica office reflects. sigh wish we worked in the water gardens.

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