Our Ã¢â‚¬Å“DrivenÃ¢â‚¬Â series highlights the several cars I was able to sample at IMPAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spring Brake 2009 event. These short takes are summaries of my driving impressions of the cars on the roads surrounding Bear Mountain State Park in Rockland County, New York.
The first thing I want to share with you about the SL63 AMG is that it is possibly one of the best cars I have ever driven. This is the one car out the 60 vehicles available to us that I would have picked to drive home. Why, you ask? It’s simple-the SL63 AMG has the ultra-rare capacity to be just the type of car you want it to be, when you want it to be. The driver sets the tone and the personality, and has the uncanny ability to change it on a moment’s notice.
By that, I mean the SL63 can play the role that the SL has played for Mercedes for decades-that of the relaxed tourer-top down, soak in the scenery, the car being utterly complacent in its role as a Grand Tourer. But any SL can play that part. What makes the SL63 stand apart is its ability to switch roles into a ferocious sports car.
Stand on the throttle and the car practically explodes off the line. The normally aspirated 6.3L V-8 makes a prodigious 518hp with 465 lb ft of torque on tap. Mercedes claims a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds, and I believe them. I want to take this opportunity to thank the AMG engineers for creating one of the sweetest-sounding V-8 engines I have ever listened to. The car is a thrill to start up. At full song I was practically giddy. But again, it works with the dual personality of the car-subdued when you want to roll like that, and angry as all hell when the mood strikes.
The transmission of the SL63 AMG deserves high praise. The 7-speed Multi-Clutch Technology transmission may be the greatest automatic ever created. AMG tossed the traditional torque convertor and replaced it with a wet clutch. Add in some excellent gearing and wizard electronics, and the results are absolutely stupendous. With the car set in Sport mode, it was as if the car was reading my mind. The SL63 was always in the right gear, held each gear just as long as I’d have preferred, and always downshifted to the perfect ratio. Simply the most intuitive automatic gearbox I have ever experienced. Genius.
Nestled in the firm yet comfortable AMG sport seats, I was impressed with the quality of the cockpit, the soft textures, smart carbon fiber trim (tasteful, not gaudy) and seductive leather surfaces. The Benz exuded class on everything you touched. But then again, for $135,000, it should.
Nearing the end of my drive, I wondered if in the SL63 AMG, Mercedes had finally faithfully recreated the essence of what made the original 300SL Roadsters of the 1950’s legends in their own time, and a timeless classic today. The car is that good, and Mercedes deserves kudos for creating a car truly worthy of the historic SL name.