August 13, 2014

News & Features

Auto review: Mercedes SL65 mixes style and swagger

Tampa Bay Times

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The Mercedes-Benz SL65 gets 21 mpg in highway driving. (Mercedes-Benz)

We drove the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 roadster in 2012 when it first came out, and were impressed by its design and ride. Now, after driving the performance version, the fully loaded SL65 AMG, we're even more impressed.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG roadster
    Price: $212,240 base start (2015 models start at 215,250), $221,815 as tested
    Powertrain: 6.0-liter V-12 biturbo, 7-speed AMG SpeedShift Plus transmission with paddle shifters, RWD
    Horsepower: 621 at 4,800-5,400 rpm
    Torque: 738 pound-feet at 2,300-4,300 rpm
    Curb weight: 4,299 pounds
    Seats: Two
    Fuel economy: 14 miles per gallon city, 21 mpg highway
    Fuel type: Premium unleaded
    Safety features: ABS, adaptive brakes, brake assist, Pre-Safe brakes, airbags, attention assist, Distronic Plus, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist.

Appearance: The SL series has the iconic roadster look: low to the ground, with a long hood and short rear deck. The headlights are set wide, with a prominent Mercedes three-point logo flanked with double chrome horizontal bars on the black-mesh grille. Our tester had the carbon-fiber exterior package ($3,570) which includes the attractive deck-lid spoiler. The car's thin-spoked forged alloy wheels — 19-inch for the front and 20 for the rear — look sophisticated. Ours were black ($500), accented with the red-painted brake calipers ($1,000). The designer Mocha Black paint ($2,300) carries a hint of dark-chocolate color. The four polished chrome tail pipes stand out against the dark paint. The convertible hard top retracts seamlessly — in 16 seconds — into the trunk.

Performance:
The SL65's 621-horsepower, 6.0-liter biturbo V-12 has a gentle purr at idle or cruising speeds, but step on the accelerator and it roars to life thanks to the AMG sport exhaust. Mercedes says the zero-60 time is 3.9 seconds, but it feels instantaneous when you are behind the wheel. The tuning wizards at the AMG division have calibrated the car's Active Body Control suspension system, which reduces the body roll, especially in Sport mode, which is one of three suspension settings. The seven-speed AMG SpeedShift Plus transmission clicks off shifts quickly with just a gentle tap on the aluminum paddles. The estimated fuel mileage is 14 city/21 highway mpg and comes with a gas-guzzler tax of $1,300. There is an ECO system that shuts off the engine at a stop to conserve fuel, but the restarts are immediate.

Interior: The luxurious cabin is awash in perforated and diamond-stitched leather. Let's talk seats: What more could ask for in a sports car or grand tourer? They are well-bolstered, feature 12-way adjustments and will massage you. Our tester came with the Airscarf feature, which is a vent in the seats that blows warm air on your neck and shoulders. (We didn't use it in the summer heat — we wish it blew cool air.) The hard-top roof has a really ingenious feature called Magic Sky Control, which is, well, like magic. The glass is dark and keeps the sun out, but with a push of the button, the glass turns transparent. The 900-watt Bang & Olufsen BeoSound system has 12 speakers, two acoustic lenses and a booming sound that can overwhelm the small cockpit. Like everything else about the car, it manages to be both sophisticated and over the top.

The bottom line:
Our only complaint — we didn't have a closed roadway to drive it, free from traffic laws.

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