2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG at Frankfurt Motor Show

  • Competes with: Audi R8, Ferrari California
  • Looks like: A classic shape with a modern front end
  • Drivetrain: 420-hp, 6.3-liter V-8 with seven-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Mid-2010

Mercedes’ last gasp in the supercar game was the SLR McLaren, which ended its run of wowing car-show patrons last year. Although it was a gorgeous car, it had been around for six years, and Mercedes wanted to break away from the McLaren partnership to build the $500,000 car. The all-new SLS AMG was designed completely in-house, and it features some retro aesthetics, namely gull-wing doors.

To get to those gull-wings, you first have to get past the front end with its flattened grille and gigantic Mercedes emblem. It’s easy to pick apart a grille these days — it’s the blank canvas that automakers feel free to deface. However, the SLS AMG’s profile and rear are much more minimal in design and would even be considered understated by some. The interior is supposed to evoke the feel of an aircraft cockpit, and the numerous buttons on the center console certainly help with that.

Performance isn’t neglected for style as the 6.3-liter V-8 is a terrific engine, and teaming it to a lightweight body — 3,571 pounds — leads to a zero-to-60 time of 3.6 seconds. Weight is distributed in a 47/53 front-to-rear ratio, and the transmission is a dual-clutch with seven speeds.

The big question is how many of the SLS AMGs — believed to be around $250,000 — will we ever see. The very limited SLR McLaren  sold around 3,500 units in its lifetime, and it looks like the price of the SLS will put it in more rarified air than the likes of the Audi R8.

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