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2013 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG

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It’s straight-up, put-the-lotion-in-the-basket crazy. There’s but a thin crust of civility over a roiling center of completely freakin’ nuts. It’s the relatively unassuming look of the thing. To the uninitiated, the SL65 looks like a sane SL550. But it is something other than sane.

With a base price of $214,445, the 621-hp twin-turbo V-12 SL65 is the most expensive roadster in the Mercedes lineup, because, says Mercedes, some buyers simply want the top-shelf car that others can’t afford. We thought those guys would be inclined toward the more extroverted SLS AMG GT roadster, but unfortunately that one is less expensive at only $208,605. It’s also less powerful, by 38 horsepower.

We trundled along local freeways looking, we presume, just like a standard-issue rich guy. Then, when we needed—well, wanted—to pass a dawdling car, we’d jam our foot to the floor, wait a half-step, and then arrive at 130 mph with the car murmuring to itself in a low turbo hiss. Everybody should try it once. Your pupils slam wide open. A metallic taste develops in the back of your mouth. You notice that other drivers are staring at you. They look bewildered, mostly. But there are notes of disgust and fear in their expressions. You’re now keenly aware of your speed and the scope of your unplanned transgression.Besides, the SLS looks like a mechanical phallus. It’s so . . . overt. The SL65 AMG keeps its bloodlust better disguised.

Thing is, in our testing the SL65 is not any quicker or faster than thePerformance-package-equipped 557-hp SL63 AMG that costs roughly $60,000 less. Not to 60 mph (at 3.7 seconds, the SL65 is a tenth slower), not through the quarter (equal at 11.8 seconds at 124 mph), and not in top speed. Both cars are governed to 186 mph. In passing maneuvers, the SL65 is actually four-tenths slower than the SL63 from 30 to 50 and a half-second slower from 50 to 70 mph.

A big part of the reason is that, despite its additional 64 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque, the SL65 wears not just the same size tires as its lesser brother, but the exact same model of tires. This, and the fact that the SL63 has a launch-control system that the SL65 doesn’t, accounts for the lack of improvement on standing-start acceleration tests. It doesn’t matter how much more power you put through the same tires; traction-limited is traction-limited. The two cars use the same seven forward-gear ratios in their automatic transmissions. But the SL65 jams a conventional torque converter between its gears and the engine, while the SL63 has a wet-clutch arrangement that delivers a hair-trigger response. This, in large part, explains the diminished passing performance

Article Credit: Car And Driver

Updated 6 Years ago

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