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BEing a vegetarian, food is always a problem when I travel overseas. It wasn’t any different this time too. The lunch, like all meals in the past four days, consisted of veg pasta with an additional delicious mushroom sauce. And though it was the best meal since I left India, it did not delight me as much as it should have. The reason? Well, frankly, the Mercedes SLS AMG’s key lying on the table kept me distracted and I was unable to concentrate fully on the meal before me! 
The SLS AMG is the first completely independent project undertaken by AMG since the tuning firm came under the Mercedes umbrella back in 1999. No doubt, AMG did a lot of homework before they started scribbling on the paper and came up with the concept of the SLS. The principles were clearly laid out: make it blisteringly fast, outrageously stunning, thoughtfully practical and profoundly futuristic without, of course, forgetting the three-pointed star’s roots.
To start with, Mercedes AMG decided to go futuristic with the design but, at the same time, were inspired by the 300 SL Gullwing. Thus came the Gullwing doors that grab your attention more than anything else, which is a little weird for a car that goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.8 seconds (just about 0.4 seconds slower than something like the Ferrari 458 Italia). But are these Gullwings all show and no go? Not really. They are made of lightweight aluminium and operate perfectly if you learn the trick of closing them while getting into the car instead of trying to reach out for the handle once sunk deep into the bucket seat. Also, don’t expect the option of pressing a button to close them electrically, because that mechanism would have just added the weight of electric motors on the roof – not an idea likely to sound great to the engineers.
The SLS’ long bonnet, small cabin and short tail give the car a killer profile from the side. The broad grille with the bold three-pointed star stuck on it reminds me of the classic design concepts of the 1950s and 60s. But make no mistake, this one has been interpreted for the 21st century and flawlessly at that. The interior is neat and clean with carbon fibre laid out generously. And though I was going to spend most of the time sitting in that awesome cabin, I was more interested in what was resting the long bay in the front.
A V8 6,208-cc engine, the same one that does duty in various other cars, powers the SLS AMG. Obviously, in SLS, it has been tuned to perform far better. It has also got a dry sump instead of a wet sump, which facilitates a lower centre of gravity and reduces oil drag. The engine is at the front, but behind the front axle, and drives the rear wheels, thus making the SLS an awesome front-mid engined and rear wheel-driven sportscar configuration.


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