The Mercedes SLS AMG is a car that shouldn’t need much of an introduction, it’s been around for almost a decade now but despite newer, more powerful supercars emerging onto the market the SLS remains an inspired choice as both a collectible and as a car to enjoy.
Here at Romans International we have sold almost every variant of the SLS and over 70 different SLS’s in total so we feel very well placed to offer this buyer’s guide where we can detail the important differences between each of the models and ultimately give a dealer’s insight into the market on this true modern day classic.
SLS Black Series & SLS Final Edition
A Brief History on the SLS AMG
The Mercedes SLS was the first car to be developed entirely in house by AMG from the ground up. Mercedes gave their engineers an opportunity to live out their automotive fantasies without any restrictions starting from a blank sheet of paper, and a full 37 months later the SLS was born. This was AMG’s opportunity to shy away from the all too familiar big engine executive saloon car recipe and compete with the likes of the Ferrari 599 GTB and later the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta as an out and out super GT car.
Unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the SLS was seen as a spiritual successor to the legendary 1954 300 SL Gullwing featuring the iconic gullwing doors for the first time in over half a century. The retro styling of the SLS AMG was something that instantly caught the imagination with its fantastically long bonnet and set rear cabin which made you feel like you are sitting on the rear axle, so there was a sense very early on that this was going to be a future classic.c
Whilst the gullwing doors may have been the eye-catching attention grabber, the real star of the show was it’s 6.2 Litre naturally aspirated V8 engine. Producing 563 bhp and 479 lb ft of torque, Mercedes claimed it was the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated production series engine ever made at the time. More than 120 different parts were used in the SLS engine to differentiate it from the other 6.2 Litre AMG engines with all this power transferred through an AMG SPEEDSHIFT 7-speed dual-clutch semi-automatic gearbox which was connected to the engine through a lightweight carbon fibre driveshaft. The V8 bellow to this day is one of the best sounding engines in history, made all the more important by the industry’s move since then towards downsized turbocharged engines.
Over the following 5 years Mercedes updated the SLS range with further variants and special editions before production finally ended in 2014 and the SLS was replaced in 2015 with the AMG GT.
The SLS AMG Roadster
At the 2011 Frankfurt International Motor Show, Mercedes launched the SLS AMG Roadster which had the more conventional doors rather than the Gullwing doors and featured a three-layered fabric soft top that opened in 11 seconds on the move. Weighing only 40 kg more than the SLS AMG Coupe, the car was actually praised for having improved driving dynamics over it’s hard top counterpart and of course offered the opportunity to hear the intoxicating exhaust note in all it’s glory with the roof down. It featured “airscarf” neck level heating and a reversing camera as standard whilst it also the introduced a new option; AMG Ride Control sports suspension which featured variable damping settings with a choice between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes.
Obsidian Black SLS Roadster
The SLS AMG GT
In 2012 Mercedes launched the SLS AMG GT, which was available both in Coupe and Roadster forms. With virtually identical looks the GT was seen as more of a performance tuned version with a 20 bhp increase over the standard SLS AMG and several revisions made to the gearbox and suspension to ensure it had a more driver focused appeal. There were new alloy options for the GT as well as a very desirable diamond quilted interior option, whilst the Bang & Olufsen surround sound system was equipped as standard on the GT.
The SLS AMG Electric Drive
In 2013 Mercedes released the SLS AMG Electric Drive, a fully electric version of the SLS. It was a truly revolutionary car powered by four electric motors with a combined total output of 740 bhp and 740 lb ft of torque which allowed each electric motor to selectively drive all 4 wheels, making it the first all-wheel-drive fully electric supercar. With truly astonishing performance it featured a carbon fibre reinforced plastic battery monocoque, independent multi-link suspension with pushrod damper struts and carbon ceramic brakes. Very rarely ever seen on the market the SLS Electric Drive was not considered a commercial success with fewer than 100 units sold worldwide.
SLS Electric Drive
The SLS AMG Black Series
The ultimate version of the SLS is undoubtedly the SLS Black Series and it arrived in late 2013. Following in the footsteps of the C63, CLK63, and SL65 the “Black Series” marque is saved for the most hardcore version that AMG can muster up with ultra-aggressive styling and stripped out weight saving measures to ensure the highest performance possible. Power was increased to a whopping 622 bhp but cleverly AMG decreased the torque to 468 lb ft to make the car more useable. The Black Series also received a new titanium exhaust saving 13kg, carbon ceramic brakes, modified power steering, active rear locking differential, a lithium-ion battery and an aerodynamic package which featured a striking carbon fibre rear wing which could be manually adjusted to increase rear downforce on race tracks. Mercedes claimed this was a close relative to the GT3 race car and the Black Series certainly brought a more track focused feel to the SLS.
The SLS AMG GT Final Edition
Finally, in 2014 Mercedes launched the SLS AMG GT Final Edition which ensured the SLS went out with a bang. Available as both a Coupe or a Roadster, this was the first strictly limited number model variation of the SLS. Set to only 350 units worldwide which is a combination of both the coupe and roadsters this car was based on the SLS AMG GT but featured a host of cosmetic upgrades. Mechanically it is identical to the SLS AMG GT but distinctive in it’s own right due to the stunning visual carbon fibre bonnet with central air outlets which is exclusive to the final edition, carbon fibre splitter, the fixed carbon fibre rear wing from the Black Series and light weight forged alloys. With each Final Edition featuring the “1 of 350” plaque there is a sense that this is the most collectible version of the SLS and strikes a fine balance between the aggressive styling and track focused drive of the Black Series and the usability and retro looks of the standard SLS.
The SLS is equipped with a high level of standard features including Navigation, Parking Sensors, Keyless Go, Electric seats and plenty more as you would expect from a Mercedes but we have always found the optional extras to be very important on the SLS with the higher spec examples proving both more valuable and easier to sell. The standout options on the earlier cars were the Bang & Olufsen surround sound system (£5,055) and the AMG high performance ceramic composite brakes (£8,140) whilst having the carbon fibre interior is also a must-have for many of our clients. One important thing to note on the carbon fibre interior is that there are two levels you can get, there is the “Carbon Fibre Trim” (£2,995) which is basically just the carbon fibre centre console replacing the aluminium trim but there is also “Carbon Fibre Interior Package” (£6,000) which also includes the inner side sills and the seat backs.
Convenient options such as the reversing camera (standard on the Roadster and GT models) telephone pre-wiring and the Garage door opener were inexpensive options and are generally found on majority of examples whilst it is also possible to spec carbon fibre wing mirrors and a carbon fibre engine cover. The “AMG Ride control” sports suspension was available on the roadster and some of the later gullwings but in our experience is a nice but not essential option to have.
With regards to the different colour combinations there is a huge selection of different paints available with the different shades of grey generally proving the most popular. “Imola Grey” (£1,755) is probably one of the most common and safest colours to buy but the likes of “Alubeam Silver” (£8,570) or the Magno (Matte paint) examples tend to be very sought after too. Interior comes as single-tone or two-tone designo leather with Black & Red very desirable, as is the Black & Porcelain two-tone combination. Diamond quilted interiors were available on the GT and Final Edition variants and are seen as very important on those models. In general cars that come with the sports bucket seats are more difficult to sell, these are best left to the Black Series version.
Although none of the above options are seen as absolutely imperative to purchasing an SLS I think it’s important as a collector or someone with investment in mind that a low mileage example with the highest specification available is what you should be looking for in order to preserve it’s value.
P.S There are a number of cars we’ve seen advertised over the years called “SLS Studio Performance Editions”. In our opinion these cars should not be seen as a special edition and to our knowledge have solely been fitted with aftermarket bespoke cosmetic items which do not add any value.
Servicing and Running Costs
Every SLS should be serviced every year regardless of the mileage and we would always highly recommend using an official Mercedes dealership with an AMG Performance Centre such as Mercedes-Benz of Gatwick. Cars with independent specialist service history we would generally avoid, especially seeing as the official Mercedes servicing is relatively inexpensive with most A services costing in the region of £400-500 and B services costing less than £1,000 in most cases.
The SLS comes with a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty and as such most cars today will have run out of warranty. There are extended warranties available from Mercedes-Benz but in most cases a dealer’s warranty such as RAC or Warranty Wise will be sufficient. In general we don’t find many problems with SLS’s, out of the 70+ examples we’ve sold we can count on one hand any cars that have had issues. One car had to have the radiators replaced, another needed engine wiring repairs and one of our roadsters had leaking due to some sealing issues but overall this is German engineering at it’s finest.
Bear in mind the 6.2L engine is a thirsty beast so don’t be too surprised to find yourself at the petrol station at regular intervals!
The SLS Market and The Future
The SLS originally cost new in the region of £165,000 but with options most cars were costing closer to £185,000 and we’ve even had one car which listed at £215,000. Within a couple of years deprecation had set in quite heavily and by 2012 cars were readily available for around £120,000. This continued into 2013 and 2014 where they eventually “bottomed-out” at around £90,000 – £100,000. From late 2014 till 2016 there was a boom in the market with virtually all sought after and collectible classic and modern cars experiencing surges in value bringing even the more average SLS examples back up towards £150,000 and very low mileage high spec examples closer to £200,000. This appears to have now levelled out in line with the rest of the market and generally cars look like they will hold very steady in the short term with sure potential for future appreciation. Bear in mind the 300 SL Gullwing from yesteryear regularly trades at close to £1m.
In general, the SLS Roadster, although a lot rarer than the coupe in terms of the number that were built, is seen as the less collectible car and although was more expensive on the second hand market than the coupe for the first few years of it’s existence can be now be picked up for substantially less than the coupe. It’s still an attractive proposition for those looking to drive and enjoy their car but we do find they are a lot harder to sell.
For those who want the cream of the crop, there is the GT version which despite only a £12,000 increase in list price over the original SLS tends to hold a higher premium than this due to it being built in much smaller numbers with the SLS GT Roadster being a true unicorn with only 2 examples ever delivered to the UK.
For the most serious of enthusiasts and collectors the only choice really is between the SLS Black Series and the SLS GT Final Edition. Equally rare but very different in character, the Black Series are generally sold in the region of £400,000 – £500,000 which is double what it cost from new whilst the Final Edition tend to be in the region of £300,000 – £400,000 with right hand drive examples extremely difficult to source.
Overall the future looks good for the SLS, it is highly unlikely that Mercedes will build another car with gullwing doors for the foreseeable future and we probably won’t ever see another 6.2L naturally aspirated V8 from AMG, so this really is the last in a line. With timeless looks whichever SLS variant you buy, you can be assured you are buying a modern classic and a true icon of the automotive world and we can’t recommend them highly enough.
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We are pleased to announce the reopening of our showroom as of Monday 12th April 2021. Entry to the showroom will be strictly prearranged on an appointment-only basis, following the current government guidelines. Customers will be required to wear a face mask at all times and sanitise their hands upon entry.
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