Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: 2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,753

    2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG

    It's actually easier to go shopping for a six-figure exotic than an econobox.

    Maybe not money-wise, of course. But at least with high-end exotics, you don't have to worry about figuring out which one out of probably six or eight basically similar models you ought to go with. Instead, you're looking at a relative handful of possibilities - and each of them will usually be much more individually distinctive.

    The Mercedes-Benz SL series coupes are a good example. There are maybe three or four loose competitors - cars that are kind of similar in layout, price and performance. But the differences in style and design, personality and driving characteristics, between an SL550 and an Aston Martin Vantage, Cadillac XLR-V or Jaguar XKR are vastly greater than the differences between a Corolla and a Civic.

    That individuality is part of what you're paying for when you buy a roller like the SL.

    WHAT IT IS

    The SL is a super-luxury two-seater with a standard retractable hardtop. It comes in SL550 ($95,900), super-ultra luxury SL600 ($136,100) and ultra-performance SL63 AMG ($132,000) and ultra-ultra performance SL65 AMG ($190,700) versions - all of them sharing the same basic layout/body and interior but differentiated by the amount of horsepower under the hood as well as trim/features included.

    The SL series competes (loosely) against similar in price high-dollar coupes and roadsters like the Aston Martin Vantage, Cadillac XLR-V, Jaguar XKR.

    WHAT'S NEW

    In addition to a revised front end (styled to give the car a "meaner" look) Benz has updated the steering and active suspension system to give the SL more high-speed handling enthusiasm to go with its new game face. These changes were likely made to render the car more appealing to men - and to younger men, specifically. The previous SL had a gentler, more relaxed appearance that caused it to be criticized in some quarters as a "trophy wife" (or older man's) car.

    No one will say that about the new SL.

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The SL's standard engine (in the SL550) is a 5.5 liter V-8 developing 382 hp. It comes with a 7-speed automatic with sport and comfort modes and automatic or manual control of up and downshifts. The SL550 can make 60 mph in just over 5 seconds - with top speed electronically limited to 155 mph.

    The uber-luxury V-12 powered SL600 comes with twin turbos and 510 hp. This model achieves 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

    Next come the AMG-tuned ultra-ultra performance versions of the SL - beginning with the SL63 AMG. This model features a 6.2 liter V-8 and 518 hp - as well as a brand-new "clutchless" 7-speed manual Mercedes calls Speedshift.

    Like the BMW SMG gearbox, this is a true manual transmission - with the clutch engagement handled automatically by computer control. The difference between the Mercedes Speedshift transmission and BMW's SMG (and other automated manual transmissions currently on the market) is the system of wet clutches Mercedes uses to nix the back and forth jerking under hard acceleration that many people have complained about with the SMG (and similar) automated manuals from other manufacturers. The Speedshift transmission snaps off even quicker - and more consistently quick - shifts than the BMW SMG, but without the see-sawing effect between gear changes.

    The SL63's 0-60 time is about the same as the SL600's at 4.5-4.6 seconds.

    If you need to go faster still, the top-of-the-line SL65 offers a 6 liter V-12 with twin turbos and 604 horsepower and - no typo - 738 lbs. ft of torque. For comparison/perspective, the SL65's V-12 puts out 170 horsepower more than the standard 6.2 liter V-8 in the 2009 Chevy Corvette - and its torque output is a truly jaw-dropping 314 lbs.-ft. higher. It is the Desert Eagle of engines - so much firepower on tap you can't really make full use of it. Just point and spray and hope you hit something.

    The SL65's 0-60 time is in the 4.2 second range - traction limited. If this car's power was even semi-controllable, that time could be chopped down by half a second or more. But if you want silly power - the ability to rolling burnouts from 30 mph - this is the one for you!

    RIDE & HANDLING

    One of the biggest draw of the SL is its Active Body Control suspension system - which responds instantly to aggressive (or not aggressive) driving styles, tightening up (or relaxing) the car's ride quality/firmness to match whatever you're inputing via your right foot and the steering angles you're dialing in. It can go from race-car stiff to easygoing afternoon cruise almost faster than you can think. And unlike some other adjustable suspension, the driver doesn't have to choose a setting. Nor are you locked into one of two or three "set" settings. The car just keeps pace with you - whether the pace is fast or slow or somewhere in between.

    All SLs feature steering that's not just variable ratio but "active" - like the self-adjusting ABC suspension. It reacts to vehicle speed as well as loading forces on the suspension/chassis to provide the optimum feel for any situation- fast cornering or hours on end of straight ahead freeway driving.

    On the latter score, the SL's comfort factor is enhanced by its spacious cabin - which has excellent head and elbow and legroom. It is also not a difficult or awkward car to get into or out of.

    STYLING & UTILITY

    The SL - like all the cars in this price range - is the vehicular equivalent of a supermodel. You may prefer this one or that one - but there isn't a butterface in the room.

    That new front end definitely ups the testosterone quotient. And it is from the front that the SL is best viewed. It's not that it's ugly from the side (far from it) but the straight on view is the best. There's elegance (which the previous SL had) but also menace - which the previous SL did not. The massive three-pointed star looms large in the rearview mirrors of lesser cars. No need to flash to pass. Left lane dawdlers move over almost as quickly as they do if you happen to be driving a navy blue Crown Vic.

    It is an authoritative car.

    (This is one of the biggest areas of difference between it and the smaller, much less expensive SLK retractable hardtop. While the SLK is a nice car, it's also "cute." Men just don't look right in them. No such issues the with SL.)

    The SL is also a pretty usable car.

    It may only seat two, but behind the front seats there are various cubbies (auto-locking, too) you can use to both to store stuff and to store stuff out of sight. The trunk isn't huge, but 10 cubic feet is decent - just slightly less than what you'd find in an Aston Martin Vantage (10.6 cubic feet) or Jaguar XK-R (11 cubic feet). Of its direct competitors, only the Caddy XLR-V offers appreciably more trunk - 12 cubic feet - and even then, the difference is not a deal breaker. There's enough space to comfortably handle most everyday needs (groceries, gym bags, golf bags, etc.) and it's serviceable for longer overnight trips, too.

    The SL's other big draw is its standard retractable hardtop, which has all the advantages of a carefree convertible with none of the downsides - including an easily damaged/stained fabric top. Cars like the Vantage and XKR come as coupes or convertibles - forcing you to choose one or the other. You can't have the physical security of a hardtop and the fun of a convertible in the same car.

    Only the Caddy XLR-V also comes standard with a retractable hardtop.

    But only the Benz has an available glass panorama roof that can be ordered with the retractable hardtop.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    A Mercedes - just about any Mercedes - is as blue chip as it's possible to get either safety-wise or quality-wise. The SL550 is a massive (4,220 lbs.) dreadnought and when you add all the safety gear that Benz does - everything from a pre-emptive braking system that can sense an impending crash and begin to decelerate for you, if you don't react quickly enough to do it for yourself - to thorax and knee air bags - you have to be trying really hard to end up getting hurt.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    The SL - even non-AMG versions - has the power (and the chassis/handling) to be a brutal performer when you ask it to be. Despite its much higher curb weight (and its automatic transmission) the base SL550 is only about half a second behind a base model Corvette or Porsche 911 Carrera coupe in the 0-60 sprint; either of the AMG-tuned versions of the SL are as quick - or even quicker (in the case of the brain-smasher SL65).

    With its active suspension and steering, an SL can keep up with a Corvette or 911 in more than just a straight line power run, too.

    But it has cachet over the Corvette (an exotic performer but a Blue Collar brand) and while the 911 (and Vantage V-8) can match its status the Porsche can't pony up a retractable hardtop. Neither can the Jaguar XKR. The Caddy XLR-V can - and its 4.4 liter, 443 hp supercharged V-8 also outmuscles the 5.5 liter V-8 in the base SL550 for about the same money ($100,690 for the Caddy vs. $95,900 for the SL550). But it doesn't have the option of a glass roof to go with the folding top.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    The XLR-V is (by far) the SL's toughest competition; it's a show-stopper, it's more powerful and it has a retractable hardtop - for only about $5,000 more than the SL550.

    However, it doesn't handle as well when driven hard - and it's not as comfortable when driven normally. It's still a stunning car in its own right and one you absolutely ought to look at if you're considering the SL (or something like it). But in my opinion the Benz offers the enthusiast driver a more engaging experience - as well as the completely unique coolness of a retractable hardtop that can be ordered with a fixed glass "canopy."

    As for the rest, they have their virtues - but not one of them even offers a retractable hardtop - the SL's ace in the hole.

    If that's a feature you can't live without then your decision will be easy.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1,783

    Re: 2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG

    This article has been posted on the main site with pictures:





    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...7&Itemid=10893

  3. #3
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,140

    Re: 2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG



    At least you have a picture of it. I'll stay with my 380SL. Mainly because I like the looks and mine is paid for. ;D
    Honk if you love Jesus.

    Text if you want to meet him.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Land of The Edentulites
    Posts
    22,753

    Re: 2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG

    Quote Originally Posted by grouch


    At least you have a picture of it. I'll stay with my 380SL. Mainly because I like the looks and mine is paid for. ;D
    Early SLs have a timeless beauty that is hard to match. It'll be interesting to see how the current generation fares 20-30 years down the road....

  5. #5

    Re: 2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG

    I would LOVE to get the SL65 black *grins*
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  6. #6
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    2,140

    Re: 2009 Mercedes SL550, SL600 & SL63/SL65 AMG



    Here's a picture of my SL.

    Honk if you love Jesus.

    Text if you want to meet him.

Similar Threads

  1. 2009 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-04-2009, 07:57 AM
  2. 2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS550
    By Eric in forum New Car/Truck Reviews
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 08-04-2008, 03:31 PM
  3. New AMG SL63 Edition IWC on deck
    By Eric in forum Performance/Muscle Cars
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 05-13-2008, 06:26 AM
  4. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-12-2007, 10:09 AM
  5. A different Mercedes
    By Kwozzie1 in forum Motor Mouth
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-30-2007, 10:30 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •