Skate ex­pec­ta­tions

A treach­er­ously slip­pery track and 800Nm out the back. What could go wrong?

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

TORVILL and Dean’s dom­i­nance of the 1984 Win­ter Olympics is on a par with the bal­let-like pre­ci­sion of the SL63 AMG along a rain-sat­u­rated Phillip Is­land race­track.

There’s some­thing uniquely chal­leng­ing about es­cort­ing a 395kW/800Nm sports car around a fast flow­ing cir­cuit in the mid­dle of a down­pour. Speedos are ir­rel­e­vant, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween hands, butt and seat is all-im­por­tant.

De­spite enough grunt to launch small satel­lites into or­bit, the two-door, two-seat coupe dis­plays a deft­ness through the turns to be­lie the big-bon­net looks in­cum­bent in the SL DNA.

There’s no such event as an or­di­nary AMG day but this one prom­ises more adrenalin than a heart-at­tack unit.

Cars­guide’s speed of choice here was the SL63 AMG at $381,145 be­fore the buyer starts talk­ing per­son­al­i­sa­tion.

The 5.5-lite biturbo V8 lacks the au­ral author­ity of the 6.3litre nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated C63 AMG — and costs more than twice the price — but pal­pi­ta­tions are but a heart­beat and a steady right foot away.

It is — this side of an SLS road­ster and an­other $100,000 — the de­fin­i­tive Benz sports car, es­chew­ing any sense of prac­ti­cal­ity for the sexy sil­hou­et­ted pro­file of a bur­lesque dancer and the work ethic of a bar-room madam. The cen­tre dial has a range of per­for­mance modes but on a rain-slicked track the de­fault com­fort set­ting is more than enough to light up the dash lights with any­thing near in­ap­pro­pri­ate throt­tle use.

A day spent lum­ber­ing a high-per­for­mance ve­hi­cle with an or­di­nary per­form­ing driver on a track that for­gave no er­rors shows the SL to be as sure­footed and nim­ble as any fron­tengined two-seater can be.

Plough-on un­der­steer switches to pro­gres­sive over­steer on throt­tle or steer­ing re­sponse but the SL is best suited to steady, high-gee loads as it carves up the op­ti­mal line for the exit. And if you’re wor­ried about driv­ing it in the rain, you prob­a­bly couldn’t af­ford it in the first place.

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