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BBC Autos

Review

First drive: Mercedes SLS GT

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What's this then? An SLS with even more power (20bhp, to take it to 583bhp), gearbox upgrades, altered suspension, and some minor visual tweaks.

There's also a new model name – AMG is calling this the SLS GT. Oh, and because of all these alterations, you'll need to fork out about an extra £12,000 on the list price, which bumps the cost up to roughly £180,000 for the coupe, or £190,000 for the roadster. Prices will be confirmed in the early part of 2013 because the GT doesn't go on sale in the UK until May.

Have any of these mechanical tweaks made much difference?

Definitely. The gearbox is the most significant alteration, because upshifts are now 60 per cent faster and downshifts are 50 per cent quicker, making the dual clutch gearbox more pleasant to use. It matters because it helps the SLS perform its dual GT/sports car role more effectively.

In auto, the ‘box blends changes even more deftly than the normal SLS so that you hardly notice it shifting, and it never has the slight breath between ratios like the regular car. Then in manual mode, the changes are snappier, more engaging and reactive, so you feel more in tune with the car.

The suspension alterations have also had a noticeable effect. The rear feels more stable under hard cornering and the nose is more eager to dive into a corner – again, it feels sharper, better-balanced.

An update that feels more than the sum of its parts.

What about the extra power?

In reality this hasn't had as much effect. The SLS was already bloody quick and noisy, and now it's simply a tiny bit quicker and just as noisy – no bad thing on either point. Merc will tell you that the GT does the 0-62mph sprint in 3.7 seconds, whereas the “normal” car takes 3.8 seconds. If you can tell the difference out on the open road, I'd be amazed.

So if I'm about to order an SLS, should I wait for the GT?

Yes. Apart from the obvious pub ammo amongst your pals, you'll also be buying the better car. Yes it's £12,000 extra, but that's small change for SLS buyers. The only fly in the ointment? There's a Black version due soon – a sort of halfway house between this and the GT3 racer. Should be epic.

The SLS was already bloody quick and noisy, and now it's simply a tiny bit quicker and just as noisy – no bad thing on either point. — Piers Ward