MERCEDESAMG SL63

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The name Mercedes- Benz al­ways stood for lux­u­ri­ous au­to­mo­biles and within the brand’s own peck­ing or­der, the let­ters “SL” tend to crown most price lists.

Al­though slightly re­moved from the SL ab­bre­vi­a­tion (Sporty and Light), there are few cars on the mar­ket with an il­lus­tri­ous her­itage like the Mercedes SL (see be­low).

For those want­ing even more – es­pe­cially in terms of power – the in-house tun­ing di­vi­sion AMGIS here to help.

The SL 400 Biturbo V6 or SL 500 Biturbo V8 are sold with AMG looks as stan­dard but if their power out­puts were some­how not enough, there are two full- on MercedesAmg­mod­els on of­fer.

Top­ping the charts is the mon­strous SL 65 with over 600 horse­power from its Biturbo V12 en­gine; and a hefty price tag which al­most en­com­passes an SL 400 AND SL 500. The sil­ver SL 63 I just had on test for a week seems more civilised by com­par­i­son and costs a “mere” two point five mil­lion bucks (April 2017).

Let me as­sure you that it is far from civilised though; that be­came abun­dantly clear within the first few me­ters with this 5.5-litre Bi-turbo V8.

430kw or 585hp are hard to dis­guise or keep quiet, even if Mercedes and AMG have done a ster­ling job of keep­ing the SL 63’s looks rel­a­tively dis­creet yet still pur­pose­ful within their brand de­sign.

This SL 63’s freshly-up­dated R231 ba­sis is a pure twoseater ( with small stor­age bin­na­cles be­hind the seats) and the magic of a re­tractable roof in metal and glass; or op­tional dimmable glass.

Heated seats pro­vide re­lief for top­less win­ter ex­cur­sions while ad­di­tional ex­tras turn them into fully- cli­ma­tised fur­ni­ture. Com­pared to newer Merc prod­ucts, the SL dash­board fea­tures a com­par­a­tively small built- in in­fo­tain­ment screen as op­posed to the big­ger, free-stand­ing de­vices in A- or C-class.

The gi­gan­tic twin mon­i­tors (with dig­i­tal in­stru­ments) of E- and S- Class will surely make their way to the SL with the new model in a few years.

Other than that, I had no cri­tiques in­side the stylish road­ster. Its AMG seats are su­perbly com­fort­able and sup­port­ive with ( op­tional) ac­tive side bol­sters.

Sub­tle AMG badges around the cabin join up with the em­bossed logo on the stubby gear selector to re­mind you that this is some­thing rather spe­cial.

If you need a fi­nal re­minder, just press the en­gine start but­ton. The 63’s 5,461cc V8 wakes up with a short bark and soon set­tles into a dogfright­en­ing low rum­ble. Ex­cept when it’s cold, then it keeps roar­ing away mer­rily for half a minute or un­til your neigh­bours know that you’re tak­ing the AMGTO work.

Power goes to the SL’S rear wheels via a 7-speed MCT (dual clutch) AMG au­to­matic gear­box which begs cau­tion at park­ing speeds be­cause it feels un­re­spon­sive and jerky.

Like any other DCT, re­ally.

Once on the move, this ‘box is a real marvel of modern trans­mis­sions and per­fectly ties into the car’s mul­ti­ple drive modes.

The de­fault “Com­fort” set­ting un­der­lines the SL’S tour­ing abil­i­ties, while “Sport” and “Sport Plus” pro­gres­sively ag­i­tate the SL63'S V8 en­gine, gear­box and air sus­pen­sion.

Fur­ther­more, there is a hard­core “Race” mode and an “In­di­vid­ual” set­ting which lets the driver choose the best com­bi­na­tion of those afore­men­tioned op­tions. You may paw your own way through the cogs with shift pad­dles and a Manual mode but – es­pe­cially at full throt­tle – the gear­box does a good job it­self.

Ex­cept per­haps in the “Race Start” mode (a type of launch con­trol) which gen­er­ated too much wheel spin and hence, slower ac­cel­er­a­tion times dur­ing our mul­ti­ple runs for per­for­mance tests.

Mercedes claims 0-100km/h in 4.1 sec­onds and our best was a de­cent 4.05 ( with­out Race Start) while 400m came up in just 11.79 sec­onds at 204.43km/h.

In plain English that means it’s one of the fastest top­less cars money can buy. So fast, that first gear is re­stricted and never de­liv­ers full power.

If you’re lucky, sec­ond gear will un­leash full po­ten­tial briefly (amidst a squirm­ing rear end) be­fore third gear en­gages and you RE­ALLY start ac­cel­er­at­ing. The SL 63 AMG is bru­tally fast. Al­though it’s blessed with a stu­pen­dously broad power band and hardly has any turbo lag, its mid-range punch is of the un­be­liev­able kind.

Plant your right foot be­tween 3,000 and 4,500rpm to get neck-snap­ping re­sponse and almighty ac­cel­er­a­tion. Kick­down at 120km/h and 160 ar­rives just 2.8 sec­onds later.

All the while you will be sub­jected to the Bi-turbo V8’s thun­der sound­track... which goes from a deep grum­bling mur­mur at lower speeds to loud ma­chine-gun fire at full tilt.

The beauty of this car is that you can switch to Com­fort mode and cruise in peace and quiet. Every tester highly rec­om­mends the op­tional B&wsound sys­tem for this.

The Vario Roof only op­er­ates at walk­ing pace but it’s now got a fully au­to­mated boot pro­tec­tor. Roof up you get 381L of space; with the origami roof stowed about 240L.

The petrol con­sump­tion is dis­as­trous in town or when you are gun­ning it ( I saw 29L/ 100km once) but it’s easy to achieve 12L/100km on a steady open-road cruise.

The brakes are ex­cel­lent, its LED head­lights even more so, rear vis­i­bil­ity is su­perb with the roof down and it even has a fea­ture to lift its nose over speed bumps.

Does that jus­tify this SL’S 2.5 mil­lion dol­lar ask­ing price?

I cer­tainly think so, not just for that mind-blow­ing power but just for the ac­com­plished and ex­otic SL plat­form.

Plus - you don’t see one every day...

For those on a tighter bud­get, or who just want to cruise in style, the lesser 400 or 500 mod­els should also do the job per­fectly.

Hanjo Stier Images Galimoto Me­dia Text

Thun­der­ousAudi's sounds and won­drous power - this is the new SL63 AMG.

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