Drive: The legend lives on

2010-10-01 10:34

The Mercedes-Benz SLS 63 AMG has made its way into my fantasy garage. And this is not because it has gullwing doors reminiscent of a flamenco dancer or a 6.2 litre V8 engine that purrs like a jungle cat, but because it’s the modern-day version of a technological masterpiece from the 1950s.

It was a risky attempt at rebuilding a legend – the 300SL Gullwing – but together with McLaren, Mercedes-Benz got it right. The model was best known for both its distinctive doors, which opened upwards, and for being the first car equipped with fuel injection directly into the ­combustion chamber. That kind of technology was astounding back then.

Now here is a car, an SLS 63, that has been resurrected after six decades and the result will either be bang on trend or hated with a passion.

The new model’s styling is reminiscent of the original 300SL with its broad front grille and the massive Merc badge. Its headlights do not bulge out like its predecessor though, but it still reminds me of a frog. The rear-light clusters and curvy back-end look very much like an Aston Martin.

The interior has supersoft leather seats, is laced with carbon trim and the gear lever resembles the one you would find in an airplane’s cockpit – it also serves as a handy armrest.

But seriously, who cares? The V8 engine with a seven-speed automatic gearbox thumps out 420kW of power and 650Nm of torque. Hands up those who wouldn’t want to drive a car with such figures?

Even though the SLS 63 has a massive 84-litre fuel tank, the car ran out of fuel during a short – albeit extremely fast – trip of 100km on a test drive. So be warned, it’s a serious gas guzzler with a fuel consumption of 13.2?litre/100km.

Because this sports car is ­really low, drivers of short ­stature will have a problem reaching up to close the doors. After all, there’s no point in ­getting in or out of a mind-blowing car if you can’t reach its fancy doors.

But then again, if you can deal with that and you have a spare R2?million plus lying around in your account, then hey... ride on.

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