Launch Mode: New Mercedes-Benz SL AMG 63 convertible matches blistering speed with soothing luxury
By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
The last major redesign of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class took place in 2003 — one of the carmaker’s longest stretches between new styles.
Ripe for change, the high-end model has faced the pressure of extended anticipation.
Now, the veil’s been lifted on the 2013 SL lineup, which includes the 550 roadster with 429-hp V-8 starting at $105,500, the special edition AMG 63 and the racing-like AMG 65. At least thus far, it appears that the luxury convertibles have delivered on Mercedes’ plan to roll out hot new models for the SL’s sixth generation.
“Everything I have is pre-sold,” said Danny Stackhouse, sales manager for Baker Mercedes in Charleston.
Take the 2013 SL AMG 63, the upper end sports car version with a base price of $145,800.
Baker Mercedes-Benz is displaying an edition in its showroom on Savannah Highway that arrived in the past two weeks. The vehicle, which includes a premium package, specific AMG features and drive assistance extras, is priced at $167,155.
Even without test-driving the convertible, the SL AMG 63 stands out. High-tech breakthroughs include a hydraulicallycontrolled top that opens or closes in less than 15 seconds; Magic Sky Control on the panoramic roof that fades from dark to light at the flip of a button; an “easy lift” trunk that will open electronically with a foot wave; and launch mode, which when initiated rockets the racer from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds.
“For any of the AMG products, it’s got to be top of the line,” Stackhouse said.
A notable example is the engine. While powerful before, the 2013 powertrain has been punched up to a 5.5-liter V-8 biturbo churning out 530 horsepower and 590 pounds-feet of torque.
At the same time, the vehicle sports decent gas mileage of 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for an average 19 mpg.
The body style has changed in the past decade, with the new SL a little more more streamlined and the grille jutting out a touch.Inside, the coupe showcases premium leather bucket seats in front; leather upholstery and carbon fiber trim throughout; and a multi-faceted touch screen navigation-communications system.
Other highlights include:
• 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
• All-aluminum frame to reduce weight.
• Harman Kardon audio system with speakers built into the dashboard and side panels.
• Heated and ventilated seats.
• LED (Light emitting diode) tail lamps and daytime running lights.
• 19-inch twin spoke wheels standard and 20-inchers on the rear as an option, with low profile tires.
• Twin exhausts on either edge of the rear bumper.
• Cruise control with a high-tech crash-prevention feature where the brakes automatically kick in if a car slows down or stops suddenly in front.
The launch mode is special to the AMG editions, which consist of the 63 and the V-12 621-hp 65 that’s been clocked 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds. A frame suspension setting that permits the motorist to change the feel of the ride depending on driving preferences and road characteristics is new to the SL-Class.
Cargo capacity is a decent 13.5 cubic feet with the top up and 8.5 cubic feet with the top down, enough to hold groceries or golf clubs.
Each car is handcrafted in Germany, and the engineer autographs the model under the hood near the engine. (The vehicle now at Baker Motor Co. was designed by Tobias Schultes).
Stackhouse says he doesn’t expect any more 63s for awhile. “Typically with an AMG product, you might get one a year,” he said.
To learn more, go to your local Mercedes-Benz dealer.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.