Mercedes SL550: A smooth ride wrapped in luxury

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Will Chamberlain For The Times
Will Chamberlain For The Times

If you have never experienced a convertible vehicle, you owe it to yourself to do it. Take a test drive or ask a friend who has one to take you for a ride.

I had my very first open-top experience in a 1997 Mercedes CLK350 Convertible, and it was magnificent. Not long after that I was given the privilege to road-test a brand-new 2004 SL500 Roadster and took my then-girlfriend, currently my wife, on our first date. I’m probably dating myself, and that’s OK. The bottom line is there is no better luxury roadster than the SL from Mercedes, in my opinion. It’s smooth, beautiful and provides one of the best open-air experiences you can buy.

Under the hood of the 2017 SL550 Roadster is a 4.7L Biturbo V8 engine producing 449 horsepower and down to the tarmac via rear-wheel drive. Controlling the power is a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission that is so advanced I don’t have enough room to explain it. All you need to know is that is reacts exactly how you want it to at any moment and in any drive mode selected. The 550 is the middle of the road for the SL lineup. You can get a V6 powered SL450 or the completely insane V8 powered SL63 and V12 powered SL65 AMG that packs 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque.

Will Chamberlain For The Times
Will Chamberlain For The Times
Exterior styling for 2017 is an updated version of what I tested almost 12 years ago and still looks amazing. The large Benz badge up front with portholes behind the front wheels and a rounded flat rear end really accent how powerful yet refined this car is. LED lighting covers the exterior and provides clear sight when the sun goes down. And as always, the top folds into the trunk with the touch of a button and up to 25 mph.

Inside the roadster is appointed like a royal palace. Simple yet elegant lines and layers of different materials surround the occupants like a finely tailored suit. The beauty of the SL, in my opinion, is how comfortable the driving position is and how well balanced the car is. You can drive this car in all weather conditions and have the option of opening the top at a moment’s notice. A few special features on the inside include Magic Sky Control that can change the roof from a solid to a skylight immediately. AIRSCARF is a vent in the seat at neck level that can provide amazing heating or cooling depending on the weather.

Open the top and pull onto the road, let the 449 horsepower throttle you to highway speeds and then enjoy the open air without the wind noise or turbulence. Spike the pedal and the V8 roars to life or hit a country road to blend corners and straightaways with ease. Steering is perfectly balanced and keeps you engaged no matter the setting.

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Will Chamberlain For The Times
The Mercedes SL is all about performance and superb luxury combined together in harmony. Add in that you can open the roof and you have created something special. No wonder it’s been one of the best for 60 years now. Of course, with something this special it is going to cost you.

The SL450 starts at $85,050, SL550 at $108,050, SL63 AMG at $149,700 and the line topping SL65 AMG at $217,550. If you’re curious, mpg is around 19 city and 25 highway depending on which engine and how you drive.

By Will Chamberlain Courtesy The Times

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