Bill Clinton, cigar enthusiast and former boss of the world, once said: "You can put wings on a pig, but you don't make it an eagle." Wise words, we're sure you'll agree. But what he neglected to inform his minions was that, if you put wings on a Mercedes-Benz, you end up with one of the most incredible supercars known to mankind -- the £157,500, 571bhp Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
Mercedes-Benz and its AMG performance division have been pretty bullish about the launch of the SLS AMG. In their eyes, the car isn't here to play second fiddle to established supercars, such as the , Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 or -- it's here to rip them all a new exhaust pipe. On paper, it has a very good chance of doing so.
Under the SLS AMG's long bonnet lies a massive, 6.3-litre engine that produces a whopping 571bhp. In theory, that's considerably more impressive than the Ferrari 458 Italia's 4.5-litre V8 engine and the V12 Vantage's comparatively measly 510bhp.
Drop down and get your eagle on
The SLS AMG is a beautiful car. Its long bonnet makes it look somewhat phallic, but, unlike most vehicles of its ilk, it doesn't have that familiar, flamboyant wedge shape. Its meaty front grille tapers off abruptly, giving it a wide-mouthed, slightly maniacal appearance that's reminiscent of an American muscle car. The design will appeal to younger drivers, as it should, but it'll also appeal to older drivers, as it isn't quite as pretentious as that of some Italian rivals -- until you open the doors, of course.
The gullwing doors are the SLS AMG's signature feature. Hit the remote key fob and a set of handles pops out on each side. Lift these, and the doors arc open under the user's full control, their motion smoothly modulated by a set of gas dampers in the hinge. They open up by a full 70 degrees, which gives you plenty of room to get in and -- unlike standard doors -- they only stick out horizontally by a few inches, so they're a godsend when you're parked in narrow spaces.
There are a couple of drawbacks, though. Short people will find it hard to reach the handle to pull the door closed when sat in the car, and tall people will bang their heads on the doors every time they try to get out, which can prove hugely embarrassing when you're trying to look cool.
Your wish is myComand
Mercedes-Benz has tried to make the SLS AMG's interior as special as its exterior by going for an aviation theme. Its dashboard resembles the wing of a WWII fighter plane, its air vents resemble aeroplane jet engines and its centre console (complete with throttle-style gear selector) is reminiscent of a plane's operating console. It's a pleasant place to sit, but it's slightly too clinical for our tastes. Supercars should be completely bonkers and this just seems too sensible and -- well -- German.
The SLS AMG has some impressive cabin tech, though. It uses the Mercedes' myComand interface, as seen on the. The interface consists of a centrally-mounted, 8-inch display and an 11-way knob used to move an on-screen cursor from icon to icon.
It's not as intuitive a system as Jaguar's touch-screen-based interface, but, after some practice, using it becomes second nature. You simply slide the wheel up, down, left or right to move the cursor in those directions, twist the wheel to cycle through options and push the wheel down to select.