2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: Yours for One Hour
March 14, 2012
So there you are watching The Tudors reruns on your couch when the doorbell to your house rings. You open the front door and realize it's your uncle Joe. You haven't seen him for 10 years. Last you heard he was working in "waste management."
But here he is. He's wearing a white suit and a couple days' worth of stubble. Behind him is a red 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG convertible. He dangles out the SLS key to you. "It's yours for one hour. Always told my mom I'd do something for you. Then I've got to split. Going to Mexico." He steps into your house, grabs a beer from your fridge, then starts talking in Spanish in his cell phone. You're still a bit stunned. Then he looks back at you and says, "Well? Time's wasting."
And with that, the SLS is yours. This is what you'd do. (Hey, it could happen, right?)
You approach the SLS. In person, it seems bigger than it does in the photos. You press the button on the solidly built key fob to unlock the doors. The driver seat is pretty low and far in, so you have to hover your butt over the seat, unceremoniously plop down, and then kick your legs up and over the sill. The door is hard to close fully, and you have to give it a firmer tug than you'd expect.
After getting situated, you grip the steering wheel. It feels proper and sport-oriented in your hands thanks to the indents for your thumbs at 9 and 3 and the metal shift paddles right behind them. Nearly everything is covered in leather, carbon fiber, faux suede or metallic accents.
Looking out through the windshield, the SLS's hood seems impossibly long. And down on the console to your right is the engine start button. It's glowing an angry red, like the color they might have at NORAD for the button that reads "Launch Nukes Now!"
You press the button and the big V8 fires up immediately. It's the soundtrack of NASCAR at Daytona, but imported from Stuttgart.
The shifter for the transmission only has three modes, Reverse, Neutral and Drive. You pull back on it for Drive, and then...nothing. The SLS doesn't really move forward much. You have to give a bit of gas, and then it goes. Still, it's not the most comforting thought knowing that you're driving a car that's worth more than your house.
You get out from your neighborhood and onto city streets. Now that you've had a few minutes with the car, you think that this really isn't too bad. The transmission shifts smoothly, and the ride quality, while pretty stiff, isn't beating you up. Heck, you read that Edmunds drove an SLS from California to South Dakota and back, right? It's a Mercedes Miata...just with 563 horsepower.
At a stop light, you figure that now is as good of a time as any to put the top down. You press down on the lever located on the center console. The windows go down, motors whir, and in about 10 seconds you're exposed to the elements. Yep, this is pretty cool.
Then a blue 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish pulls up next to you. An extremely attractive blonde is driving it, like Charlize Theron from The Italian Job. (For the purposes of this story, we're assuming that you're a heterosexual male, but obviously you can adjust all parties involved here for your own tastes. You're welcome.) She looks over at you, raises an eyebrow, and says, "Nice SLS." Before you can mumble a reply, she gives a slight smile as the light turns green and she takes off, V12 wailing.
You're still dumbstruck. The guy in the Prius behind you beeps his horn for you to go. Well, now seems good a time as any, so you nail the SLS's throttle. Blam! The Merc rockets ahead, quicker than you thought possible. Scenery warps, and your speed is way past legal. The Vanquish is way too far ahead, so you back off. Still, you can't help but grin. This car is cool.
Then your cell phone rings. It's your friend. "Hey. What are you doing?" he asks. Ten minutes later, you pick him up at his house.
"Yeah, this car works for you," he says, hopping in. "Your hair looks better windblown, and your posture's better, probably because you feel like you need to impress everybody. And I guess you look richer. But man, what's with your grubby Batman T-shirt and shorts? There should be a minimum fashion standard to drive this car."
You drive around some more, taking the SLS out on the highway. Not long after, though, you realize your hour is about up. It seems only fitting that you go out the way an American should: Carl's Jr. drive-thru!
Finally you get back to your house. You open the door. Your uncle is there waiting as you hand him the key. "What'd you think?" he asks. "Pretty sweet," you say. "But where did you get..." Before you can finish, you hear a bathroom door open in your house, clicking heels then the Vanquish woman comes around the corner. "Hello again," she says, as she wraps her arm around your uncle.
You really have no idea what's going on, but your uncle says, "Well, got to go. Hope you enjoyed the SLS. But we left you something in your garage, though. Hopefully the Feds don't find out about it."
Now, for your next hour drive...
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,565 miles