Most drivers with sport-tuned cars like BMW’s Ms and Audi’s S line are relegated to red light straightaways, only partially exploiting the true potential of their steeds. The pathway to higher speeds lies elsewhere. Mercedes recognized this problem and invited us to Rosamond, CA., a quiet farming town with long, unpatrolled stretches of road, to play with all their AMG toys offerings for 2013 and to use the track at Willow Springs Raceway for their brand new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT ($200,000 Base Coupe).

WANT MORE MERCEDES-BENZ? 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA | Behind The Wheel: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL | Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force Concept

The name AMG comes from the founders Hans-Werner Aufrecht (A) and Erhard Melcher (M) and Aufrecht’s birthplace of Grossaspach (G). Originally founded as a tuner shop for Mercedes owners, they impressed and satisfied customers to such a degree that Mercedes-Benz brought them into the fold in 1998. Today, AMG’s volatile mixture of passion and expertise continues to produce a group ready and willing to hand build an engine from beginning to end. (The rumor that AMG engineering applicants are allowed only one hour of sleep a day in a 100% oxygenated chamber and fed red meat and coffee while unearthing ways to mathematically defy physics may or may not be fabricated.) If an engineer is sick a day, in fact, your bi-turbo V8 sits on his workbench untouched by anyone else. This dedication to performance is why they were tasked with designing an all new car. From scratch. Mostly.

The SLS design was inspired by the uber-classic 1950’s SL “Gullwing” roadster that Mercedes built as a powerful grand tourer based on the 300SL Chassis W194 Le Mans car from 1952. Cues such as the gull-wing doors, long nose and wide door sill (originally to accomodate the tubular chasis) made the jump to 2011 and received One Direction-like craziness and adoration (if you don’t get that joke, good on you). But like all good German mad scientists engineers, the folks at AMG decided it still wasn’t enough.

For 2013, they made a host of changes and added “GT” to the name. They threw out the “comfort” mode, added 20 extra horses under the hood (up to 583) and imputed the new and more aggressive AMG Adaptive Performance Suspension. They darkened the headlights and taillights, gave a gloss black finish on the front grille, and designed new rims with black inlays that add a nice sinister touch to the already vicious car. To invoke a bit more flair to this menacing look, the folks at Mercedes added red accents throughout the interior, like contrast stitching on seats and dash, a red stripe on the top of the steering wheel — a feature of most racecars — and red seat belts that look like those life vest pull tabs on an airplane. More black and more red? Scottie Pippen circa 1997 would have been in love.

When designing a performance car, the balance between weight and power provides engineers more tension and disagreements than a Frank Ocean/Chris Brown co-hosted Grammys party, but everyone agrees on the importance of a low center of gravity. By placing the engine lower, behind the front axle, AMG imparted a more grounded feel; a dry-sump lubrication system allows minimal oil to remain in the engine, preventing the pooling of oil when cornering hard. Since decreasing weight and increasing power is the magic formula, the aluminum space frame, carbon fiber driveshaft and lightweight pistons keep it sprightly, while the rear-mounted dual clutch AMG SPEEDSHIFT drives those 583 horses to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. Auf Wiedersehen.

WANT MORE MERCEDES-BENZ? 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA | Behind The Wheel: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL | Mercedes-Benz Ener-G-Force Concept

Owning this car and using it for city errands is like having a pet lion in Manhattan: you can’t really enjoy it to its full extent. It’s an insult, a travesty. Yes, the panache of a $200,000-$250,000 car in coupe or roadster form will garner “oohs” and “ahhs” from every car you pass during gridlock and yes, the gullwing doors make you feel like a king when you get out at the valet. But the naturally aspirated 6.3-liter V8 needs room to overcome its weight; it needs to roam. So when you do get the chance to growl past 80 mph and waves of power flood in, you’re thankful that red seatbelt is securely fastened and tray tables are in the upright and locked position.