None of the settings cured the underlying sluggishness, and the selector knob further frustrated attempts to downshift on the fly because a quick twist didn't jump from one of the automatic modes to M. If you turn the knob too quickly, it simply doesn't register.
To be clear, these are the objections of a performance fiend who's driven all the other dual-clutches. The casual driver might not think twice about it here, but other examples of the breed launch more smoothly and react more swiftly. It will just take a little more development on Mercedes' part.
Ride & Handling
Cars in this class tend to ride firmly, and the SLS certainly does, too. It's livable, but some competitors are softer without sacrificing performance. The Audi R8, Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 and Lamborghini Gallardo, among others, employ adaptive suspensions to broaden the range between comfort and sport.
While Mercedes also offers a track-optimized performance suspension, which is firmer still, I was plenty impressed with the dynamics of the standard setup. For a front-engine car, it carries a lot of weight over the rear wheels. The front/rear weight distribution is 47/53 percent. It helps that the engine is mounted aft of the front axle — and that the transmission and the occupants' ample American rear ends are in the back. You would expect the tail-heaviness to make the car skittish; while you can definitely hang the tail out, and there's some lift-throttle oversteer, fat Continental ContiSportContact rear tires, rated 295/30 R20, keep it in check. The car is well-behaved, predictable, controllable. In short, it's a lot of fun.
Mercedes kindly provides a sport mode for the electronic stability system so you can test the waters before diving in with your $183,000 wetsuit. The steering is precise and pretty well weighted. Though there isn't a ton of steering feedback, there's much more than in the average Mercedes, where the sensory level always underwhelms.
Under the Gull's Wings
In some ways, the gull-wing doors ease entry. Because they open upward, they require minimal space alongside the car, allowing tighter parking arrangements. Did you ever find you couldn't open a car door because of a high curb? It would have to be an epic curb to interfere with the gull's wings. Getting in recalls a convertible or T-top: The raised door takes a notch out of the roof. On the downside, the side sill is pretty wide, and you have to vault it to drop into the seat. The most difficult part, I found, was negotiating my right foot past the turn-signal stalk, which I suspect would eventually have snapped off if I'd had the car much longer. As it was, I started the engine a couple of times only to find the high-beams on.