- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

Looking for some ‘top down’ pleasure? Then look no further than the 2009 SL Convertible offerings from Mercedes-Benz.

Lets say you are the type who likes a relaxing drive, but want ample power to accelerate with authority when the need arises. Then the $98,525 SL 550 is for you. Desire more power, status and luxury? Then opt for the $136,525 V12 SL 600 with full luxe interior. Want raw, unbridled power that makes a profound statement every time you step on the gas? You need to be behind the wheel of the ($133,525-estimated) SL 63 AMG. And if twin-turbos, six hundred horsepower and mega torque is your thing, then the $191,000 (estimated) V12 SL 65 AMG should land a plum spot in your garage.

For this review, I’ll focus mainly on the two AMG cars, the SL 63 and SL 65 AMG.

Let’s start with the less expensive car. The SL 63 AMG’s engine is a 6.2-liter V8 producing 518 horsepower and 465 pounds-feet of torque.

This is the first engine developed from the ground up by AMG, and it shares no parts with other Mercedes-Benz V8 engines. The power of the V8 and the sound of the exhaust are unreal.

The SL 63 AMG’s new Speedshift MCT (Multi-Clutch Technology) manual/automatic transmission provides lightning fast shifts. This transmission is available only in the SL 63 AMG.

It features seven speeds, four shift modes and a double-clutching function, which matches revs for smooth downshifts.

The characteristics of the SL 63 AMG are far removed from the rest of the silky smooth SL clan. This is the one to buy if you are a rebel, and you want the world to know it.

The engine wails a mighty song at max rpm, with an exhaust note that announces your unkind road intentions.

The experience in the SL 65 AMG is stealthy. Based on the 6.0-liter V12 found in the SL 600, the AMG version gets a pair of exhaust spoolers that wind the horsepower numbers up to a mighty 604 and torque to an astonishing 738 pounds-feet, or 1000 Newton-meters for the metrically inclined. This car is scary fast and whisper quiet.

All 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL roadsters are now available with AIRSCARF, a neck-level heating system that blows warm air from the head restraints of the driver and passenger seats, allowing occupants to cruise comfortably with the retractable hardtop open in colder weather. AIRSCARF uses a heating element made of barium titanate, an exotic ceramic that heats up in seconds when electrical current is applied.

These convertibles are very safe, as the SLs provide all of the built-in safety that’s expected in a Mercedes-Benz. All SLs include a pop-up, automatic roll bar that can also be manually raised.

Shoulder belts are integrated directly into the seats for greater occupant protection, especially in rollovers.

The 2009 SL range makes a statement, no matter the model.

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