2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Track Test on Edmunds.com

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Track Test

Putting Our 563-Horsepower Drop Top Through Its Paces

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test-drivers. Enjoy.

For years, the hooligans over at AMG have been turning Mercedes-Benz cars and SUVs into fire-breathing, tire-smoking, exhaust-belching monsters. Nothing in the Mercedes-Benz lineup was excused from their Frankensteinian tinkering, but ultimately, that was all they were allowed to do. Until the SLS came around in 2011.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is the first vehicle built entirely by the crew in Affalterbach and as such, we expected it to be an absolute animal. There's a 6.2-liter, 563-horsepower V8 stuffed well behind the front axle, the hood is a mile long and you sit on the rear tires. It's a wild ride. We've already experienced the SLS AMG Coupe on our track, and our long-term 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster is, mechanically, very similar. Traditionally, lopping the roof off a car and dropping in new doors has an adverse effect on a car's handling. Traditionally, cars haven't been developed from the ground up by AMG.

At $242,675, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster is, by far, the most expensive car we've had in our long-term test fleet. How does it stack up when pushed to the limit? We took it to the track to find out and see how it measures up to its gullwinged sibling, the SLS AMG Coupe.

Vehicle: 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Odometer: 14,424
Date: 01/02/2013
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $242,675

Drive Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed auto-clutch manual
Engine Type: Naturally aspirated V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 6,208/379
Redline (rpm): 7,200
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 563 @ 6,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 479 @ 4,750
Brake Type (front): 15.4-inch ventilated discs with six-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): 14.2-inch ventilated discs with four-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Double wishbone, driver-adjustable coil-over shock, stabilizer bar (Related: 2011 SLS AMG Coupe Suspension Walkaround)
Suspension Type (rear): Double wishbone, driver-adjustable coil-over shock, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 265/35ZR19 (98Y)
Tire Size (rear): 295/30ZR20 (101Y)
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiSportContact
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer performance
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,830

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 1.9 (2.1 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 2.9 (3.0 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 4.0 (4.1 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 3.6 (3.8 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 5.4 (5.4 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 11.7 @ 122.3 (11.8 @ 123.3 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 106

Slalom (mph): 68.6 (68.5 w/TC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.95 (0.98 w/TC on)

Db @ Idle: 52.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 84.9
Db @ 70-mph Cruise: 75.9
Db @ 70 with top open: 75.9

RPM @ 70: 2,250


Acceleration: Tried Comfort (C), Sport + (S+), Race Start (RS) Transmission modes, and finally all nannies off. Comfort shifts are quick-ish and smooth, S+ shifts are noticeably quicker and harsher (good for almost 0.5 second to 60 mph), and while RS worked well for the initial launch (but only twice; read the manual), it's not much quicker than S+ to 60 mph and also slow to recover from the programmed allowable wheelspin and loses time after it hooks up. Best run was all-off, in S+ mode and a quick half-throttle (?) whack as it hates/punishes pedal overlap (except in RS). Managing "threshold acceleration" is the key, with prudent and steady application of the LOUD! pedal. It'll spin tires anywhere in 1st gear.

Braking: Firm pedal, little dive (sport suspension mode), and absolutely zero fade. Of the six stops, the first stop was "longest" at 111 feet, fourth was shortest at 106. Predictably shallow jump-in, and progression varies more with pedal pressure rather than pedal travel.


Slalom: First of all, don't attempt any ESC-off limit-handling until its tires are up to temperature. It's a spooky and squirrelly car to begin with and even more so with cold, hard tires. On-throttle or off-throttle, it will spit you off the road quicker than you can say "damnit." That said, steering response is very good up to a limit, when mild understeer creeps in. Breathing the throttle would seem like a good idea, yet too much and lurid oversteer is the result. Also, this is a wide car requiring what feels like exaggerated, unnecessarily wide transitions. I killed the #4 cone a dozen times. It took all of my concentration and minute throttle adjustments to manage the inherent understeer-oversteer, and a 68 mph speed is plenty fast for this car. Sport ESC is essentially "off" with a distant safety net.

Skid pad: Again, with ESC off, there's mild understeer on the limit, yet in Sport ESC it manages to gently, invisibly drag a brake and go slightly quicker. As a result, it pulls a higher g-load. Steering is exceptionally informative, with both texture and weight fluctuations transmitted through the steering wheel. This is a wonderful, even glorious 8-9/10ths car that turns evil at 10/10ths.

  2012 SLS AMG Roadster 2011 SLS AMG Coupe
Curb weight as tested: 3,830 3,787
0-30 (sec.): 1.9 1.7
0-45 (sec.): 2.9 2.6
0-60 (sec.): 4.0 3.8
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 3.6 3.5
0-75 (sec.): 5.4 5.2
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 11.7 @ 122.3 11.6 @ 122.7
30-0 (ft): 27 25
60-0 (ft): 106 98
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g): 0.98 0.96
Slalom: 68.6 67.8

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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