BMW’s classiest tuners work their thoughtful magic on the ultimate diesel X3
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£167,365 when new
There are more eloquent, delicate and gentler ways of saying this, but the fact remains: the SLS is dead. This car, then, is the wake; it’s the last-ever SLS model to be built, a sort of celebration of its life on planet oversteer, before a newer 911-fighter arrives later in the year. Surprised? It was only ever meant to burn twice as bright for half as long, but in that time managed to worm its way into TG’s heart as an old-school V8 muscle car. For this run-out Final Edition, then, the major bits remain the same. It’s still huge fun. Based on the SLS GT, the FE features an uprated 591bhp 6.2-litre V8, revised mapping for the seven-speed, double-clutch automatic gearbox, two levels of suspension damping (Sport and Sport+) and a raft of carbon-fibre goodness: the bonnet, the Black Series fixed rear wing and the front splitter are all fashioned from carbon, while there are lightweight alloys wrapped in special Dunlops, diamond-patterned black leather, carbon-fibre trim and a numbered plaque.
Like the GT, it’s an SLS that’s sharper, a touch harder and a bit keener than the standard car (if you can call the SLS ‘standard’). Drive it with the gearbox in Comfort mode and softer suspension setting, moderate your throttle and you could mooch around at town pace all day long. It’s like a big, friendly Mercedes. If you start pressing The Buttons Of Stig – gearbox set to Manual mode, suspension to Sport+ – it’s like a big, unfriendly bear. A bear that sounds excellent, and is more than happy to spear you off into whichever hedge it finds the most hilarious if you’re not careful. In this mode, the ride is firm, the gearbox is snappy, the nose turns in cleanly, sharply and with a fraction more eagerness, and the optional AMG ceramic brakes on our test car were – once up to temp – incredibly strong. Essentially, it feels great. Then there’s the engine. A fitting swansong for AMG’s lovely V8, it is comically loud and quite terrifyingly rapid. The noise of the thing wrung out through to 7,000rpm is spine-chilling, and it’s impossible to drive it without giggling like you’re on heavy medication. Just remember that if you are not possessed of Stig-like drifting ability, better to glue down the ESP button. It’s expensive, but that’s really a moot point, because all 350 editions of this, um, Final Edition, have sold out. So that’s it for the SLS. Fare thee well.