Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG: The SL's got its sport backA while ago we drove the Mercedes SL 350 and found it a bit... off. It wasn't sporty or light - the two things its name, SL, stands for. The AMG version, however...
When I last drove the Mercedes SL, I wondered whether it was worthy of its name. You see, SL stands for Sport Light. And the 350 version wasn't really either. However, thanks to a facility in Affalterbach, Germany, you can have an SL or any Merc-- come to think of it-- with an extra sporting edge. It's called AMG, and its job is to rip your face off. As with most of these things, AMG goes back a long, long way. It began life in 1967 as a race engine forge founded by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, both former Mercedes engineers. The name, AMG, comes from its founder's surnames and Aufrecht's hometown of Grossaspach. By the early 90s, AMG was known for making mental Mercs, so much so that Mercedes' parent company, Daimler-Benz, entered into an agreement of cooperation with the company, meaning that you could buy AMGs at dealerships all over the world. Just before the turn of the century, DaimlerChrysler-- same company, different name-- bought a 51-percent share in AMG, buying the company outright in 2005. AMG cars are now a mainstay of Mercedes lineup. They're the M to Mercedes BMW, the RS to its Audi. But the AMG take on high performance is ever so slightly different from those other two. You see, AMG cars are mad. Not just a little bit mad, but the kind of mad that sits in the corner of the living room, counting the weaves in the carpet until it's time to go out to play again. Take this, the SL 63 AMG, it's got over 550 brake horsepower and 664 pound foot, thanks to an optional AMG performance pack. In standard trim, it's packing a not inconsiderable 537 brake horsepower and 590 pound foot. That's quite a lot. You gotta take into account that all of that power is thrust from it 5.5-liter twin turbo V8 all the way to its massive rear wheels. There's no four-wheel drive luxury here. Now, on a dry day, you'll from 0-62 in just 4.2 seconds. And in standard trip, up to a limited top speed of 155 miles an hour. However, with the AMG performance pack, you'll top 196 miles an hour, which is 300 kilometers an hour if you count in Euros. So, what do you say? That's very brisk, indeed. But it's not all that [unk]. A V8 and the R8 can do that. You are indeed correct. An R8 can do all of that. But you got to remember two things. One, this wasn't designed as a super car. It was a GT from the ground up. So, its job is to take you from A to B as quickly and as comfortably as possible. And two, this isn't actually the most powerful AMG money can buy. That's the SL 65 AMG. Now, that has way more power-- 630 brake horsepower and 730 pound foot of torque. Incidentally, in fact, that's more than you get in the SLS AMG super car. Yeah. We can't get around the weight issue. Thanks to its roof [unk] the SL 63 is a touch heavy-- 1845 kilos heavy. So, it's not really able to say it's light as its name suggests. But it's certainly sporty, especially if your sport is to have a good load. The amount of torque this thing kicks out is just-- it's massive. You plant your foot, and all of a sudden, you feel there's a little bit, tiny bit of a weight, and then just push back, and see-- you feel 18, 1900 kilos just fire itself into the distance. It's kind of other-worldly. The thing that makes a good GT isn't just all about the comfort. And in here, you do get all of the comfort. The seats can massage you, you can have them heated, you can have them cool. As this is a convertible, you can have the air, scarf on, all that trickery. It's the noise of the car. And because this is an AMG-tuned V8, it does sound rather fruity. Now, that's the kind of noise you want accompanying you on a long journey, so you won't have to take someone. Flip the beautiful machine paddle down a couple of gears, and off you go into the distance. People will wonder exactly what happened. And it's sound-- it's just a wonderful noise. And even if you're in town, you get that nice little burdle-- the kind of burdle that in your mind, muscle cars in the 1970s. It's pretty badass, and I really, really like it. And it's all those little bits that pile on top of the standard SL that make it a more complete experience, that make it just better in pretty much every way. This is a GT but at the flick of a switch, or a foot in this case, turns into a proper sports car. It handles incredibly well. It steers nicely, it goes well, and it makes a nice noise. What more could you want? AMG makes all its own engines. This car has an engine made by a chap called Stephen-- because he signed it, which is very nice. And Stephen, if you're out there, if you're watching, you did a very good job. It's an amazing-sounding engine. It has all of the talk. And I'm a little bit in love with it. So, thank you for creating that so that I could experience it. You were gentle. As well as being really rather fun to drive, the buds AMG have made just a few tweaks to give the SL a better and aesthetic boost. That spoiler, for example, the carbon fiber wing there is. The carbon fiber in the cap, and it all adds up to make the SL less plain, and more what you'd expect from a big V8 Merc. The buds of AMG are an inspired bunch. They see cars and think of ways to make them better. And of course, by better, I mean, much, much faster. Every car bearing those three little letters is a beautifully-crafted piece of engineering, maddeningly fast ruckus. And of course, damn good fun. The SL 63 may not be light, but it's certainly sporty.