2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
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Saturday Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
The SLS AMG Roadster gets 563 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque from a 6.2-liter V-8 engine mated to a carbon-fiber driveshaft and a seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission moving the rear wheels. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
All that power will move the car from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds. The Roadster starts at $198,675 including destination and a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax. The one you see here goes for $242,675. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Options on this test car included $14,400 worth of carbon fiber draped over every imaginable surface including the engine bay; a $6,400 Bang and Olufsen sound system; and a $2,500 system called AMG Performance Media, a frighteningly distracting software system that tracks and displays on the navigation screen data such as engine output and throttle position, a g-force meter and laps times. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
The test car seen here also came with the optional $2,500 AMG Dynamic Suspension, a feature with three stiffness settings: Comfort, Sport and Sport+. All SLS models come with five transmission settings: Controlled Efficiency, Sport, Sport+, Manual, and Race, which is essentially launch control that will hurl you at the horizon with breathtaking anger. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
The option list also includes $3,400 wheels that are 19 inches in the front and 20 inches in the rear, and the $12,500 carbon ceramic brakes. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
What’s interesting about the SLS, in both coupe and roadster form, is that it isn’t a particularly good-looking car. Even the paint on the model I tested, which should be named Indiscretion Red, couldn’t hide a blunt front end and large rectangular grille that is highlighted only by a dinner-plate-size MB logo. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Meanwhile, the rear is wide and low and looks slightly alien, like that baby Will Smith delivered in the first “Men in Black.”  (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
But taken as a whole -- the long hood, the high beltline and cabin that envelops the passengers, the vehicle’s width and proportions -- this car has road presence you’d expect on something that costs as much as a small condo. Returning to a car with a more conventional shape is a downright disappointment; the mere act of driving no longer feels special. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
The best feature about the SLS Roadster is the engine. One of the most powerful naturally aspirated V-8s on the road, it’s loud and proud and has none of the staid refinement you might expect from a Mercedes; this engine did not go to finishing school like the others. The sound is deep, throaty and gloriously unrefined. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
The roadster is quick off the line and accelerates forever, and when you do finally lift your foot off the throttle, you’re treated to some of the most delicious exhaust overrun -- that profound popping and cackle -- that you can find this side of a racetrack. You can keep your gullwing doors; putting the top down and bathing in the roadster’s aural moxie is a fine trade-off. (David Undercoffler / Los Angeles Times)
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