In today's automotive market, you expect your new vehicle to depreciate the moment you sign on the dotted line of the sales contract. If you are one of the few who can afford a new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, the vehicle that was entirely designed and built by Mercedes' performance tuning house AMG, it is almost a guarantee that you will break that mold. With your choice of either a coupe or a convertible, this high-tech retro powerhouse, as much "go" as it is "show," will make a dramatic statement anywhere.

Both the coupe and convertible roadster versions of the SLS AMG feature many classic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL lines, but the coupe goes further and includes the iconic gull-wing doors. These doors, which open upward with hinges on the roof and look like bird wings once both doors are opened fully, date back to the 1950s. While considered classic, they have always been an inconvenience, because you need some physical agility to get in and out of the vehicle.

Once inside, however, the story changes. The interior of the 2012 SLS AMG is as exquisite as any other Benz, and offers form-fitting seats and an instrument panel that has a rich, high-end look and layout. Baggage size is an issue, with only 6.2 cu ft of room in the trunk, but there are a few bins, pockets and handy places around the cabin to hide your cell phone on those long drives.

The SLS AMG is a pure grand touring (GT) car and offers one engine and transmission combination: a hand-built 6.3-liter V8 with a 563-horsepower engine located in the front, which is mated to the rear-mounted, 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle that sends power strictly to the rear wheels. Like many other vehicles with a dual-clutch transmission, the SLS AMG also has paddle-actuated shifters that add a little extra fun while driving, but they will not transform the large Benz into a race car.

The cheaper model, the SLS AMG coupe, starts at just over $189,000, while the convertible roadster begins around $196,000. Once you add on a few options, including the interior carbon fiber package, a 1,000-watt Bang and Olufsen sound system and black 10-spoke AMG wheels, the price might end up closer to $230,000!

At almost a quarter of a million dollars, almost any luxury or exotic vehicle could be on your checklist, but the main competition of the SLS AMG is the mid-engine Audi R8, the wild and extreme McLaren MP4-12C and even the Porsche 911 Turbo.

In the world of super-high-performance exotics, you might expect to compromise between comfort and making a dramatic statement. However, the 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG is a super car you can drive on a daily basis, thanks to the comforts of Mercedes and the brutal performance of AMG.

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