The SLS express

Some people say German cars have no passion or emotion, but they’ve clearly never met this beast.

The Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster is the soft-top version of the SLS AMG Coupe, which you might know better as the safety car at Formula 1 races.

It was a big decision for Mercedes to make a convertible SLS, because it automatically had to lose the Coupe’s star feature; ‘gullwing’ doors that hinge at the top, like on the iconic 1950s Mercedes 300 SL, or the DeLorean in Back To The Future. Open-top driving has an allure all of its own, though.

One of the key reasons convertibles make such involving sports cars is that you can hear the engine and exhaust so clearly, and this engine really needs to be on your list of things to experience.

Forget swimming with dolphins - this is the kind of thing that stays with you, especially when the thunderous clamour coming from the exhaust is bouncing straight back off walls and cliffs into your heart as you climb your way into the French Alps.

The noise is like nothing else. It’s a sensory atom bomb that shoots down every nerve in your body and makes you wonder why you ever spent any of your time doing anything other than charging up and down the Roadster’s gears.

It’s also quite lively, stepping ever so slightly sideways on exiting a corner under power before digging in and firing itself off down the road with the kind of shocking intensity only supercars can deliver. It’s a truly intoxicating car to drive.

It’s not all passion, though; there’s a bit of fiddling to be done before the SLS Roadster can be unleashed. At one end of the automatic gearbox’s four settings there’s Comfort, for quieter driving and generally respectful motoring.

Then by degrees, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual increase the power available, the speed of the gear changes and the ferocity with which they’re made, along with a fair degree of popping and banging from the exhaust by the time you get to Manual. The suspension also has three settings, from highest comfort to most aggressive.

The SLS Roadster will sell on its looks alone. But it’s not just a stunning design; it’s got buckets of character and as much safety technology as Mercedes actually knows about.