The all-new Mercedes-Benz SL has landed and it gets here just in time to rip up South Africa's boulevards and back roads under warmer skies.
Talking of heat, Merc's new roadster comes in three distinct flavours. The mild option, for those seeking something incredibly fast, is the SL 500. Next up is the new SL 63 AMG, designed for people who do things the outrageously fast way. Yet if something completely off the Richter scale is more your style, let us present the new SL 65 AMG.
TWELVE POTS, TWO TURBOS
Let's start with that one. As before, we have a tyre-shredding 6-litre twin-turbo V12 rocket launcher shoving 1000Nm through the back wheels. Only difference is that maximum power has been bumped up from 450kW to 463kW. Like the rest of the SL range, the 65 is also lighter than its predecessor (170kg in this case), largely due to an all-aluminium body. This means you can expect it to screech from standstill to 100km/h in just four seconds flat if you can get the 65 off the mark cleanly enough.
One notch down the ladder, the new SL 63 AMG is 125kg lighter than before and is thrusted along by AMG's 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 that pushes 395kW and 800Nm and does 0-100 in 4.3 seconds. Splash out on the Performance Pack and you can look forward to a 4.2 second sprint thanks to outputs of 415kW and 900Nm. In the latter case, your electronic speed limiter is liberated to allow 300km/h.
Mind you, opting for the 'entry level' SL 500 doesn't appear to entail too much sacrifice. It still has a direct injection twin-turbo V8 (displacing 4663cc) to the tune of 320kW and 700Nm, enough to get you to 100 in 4.6 seconds. As with its AMG hooligan siblings, the engine technology and body diet have significantly reduced fuel consumption - by 22 percent in this case. That said, the 500 still drinks 9.1 l/100km on the unrealistic EU combined cycle.
On the chassis front, the SL 500 comes standard with semi-active adjustable damping, while an active suspension system is optional. All versions are fitted with Merc's electromechanical Direct Steer speed-sensitive power steering.
SKY’S THE LIMIT
Like its predecessor, the SL has an electrically-operated hard top that folds into the boot when not wanted. If the standard painted roof seems too gloomy, you can also opt for a glass roof or a unique transparent roof that can switch between light and dark at the push of a button.
As you'd expect, there's a whole barrage of electronic gadgetry to speak of here, including the standard drowsiness detection system, an autonomous partial-and-emergency braking device, Active Park Assist (for automatic parallel parking), Active Lane Keeping and Active Blind Spot Assist.
The Comand infotainment system with internet access - and various apps - is also available. In addition to connecting you to Facebook and bringing you the news, the car can also find you the latest share prices and even direct you to a nearby car park.
Best you make sure those shares are edging upwards before you look at the bill below.
SL 500 (7-speed 7G Tronic) - R1 635 000
SL 63 AMG (7-speed MCT) - R2 120 000
SL 63 AMG Pack (7-speed MCT) - R2 220 000
SL 65 AMG (7-speed 7G Tronic) - R2 621 000
Our Star Motoring correspondent Denis Droppa is currently attending the South African launch of the SL. Look out for his driving impressions this Thursday.