As certainly as day follows night and Kreme follows Krispy, the launch of a new Mercedes-Benz model will be followed by the intro of its AMG version. It has been almost a year since we first drove the new SL550, which was followed up a few months later by the SL63 AMG and its 5.5-liter direct-injected twin-cam 32-valve V-8 with twin turbos, 530 horsepower, and 590 lb-ft of torque.
Much of the SL63’s mechanicals carry over to the new SL65—except, of course, for the latter car’s 6.0-liter V-12. That engine is also fitted with two turbos, but it features a single cam atop each head and three valves per cylinder. Developed from the previous twin-turbo V-12, this one has new turbos and manifolds, better airflow through the waste gate, a new engine-management system, and “optimized” cylinder heads, which bring an increase of 17 horsepower over the
Mash the gas on an SL65, and the turbos take about as long to spool up as you need to think “What the?” The 4450-pound Mercedes then summarily blitzes for the horizon as if you’d engaged hyperdrive. We estimate the 60-mph run in 3.5 seconds, 0.1 second slower than the gullwing SLS AMG GT. Mercedes trims the top speed at 186 mph. Fuel-economy numbers are 14 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway, which is a tad more efficient than the 12/20 EPA estimates for the Bentley Continental GTC.
Then again, the SL65 is even pricier than a Continental GTC. In fact, it’s the most expensive Mercedes sports car, not counting the extremely limited SL65 45th Anniversary Edition, of which just 45 will be built. Only the 6, 205 CL65 is dearer in the three-pointed star’s stable.
The SL65 has some external changes, although the SL550 is already fairly aggressive. The biggest upgrades are inside where you can enjoy them, relaxed in AMG sport seats with unique diamond stitching. In cooler climes, you can raise the side windows and rear wind blocker, turn on the Airscarf heating system behind your neck, and be comfy top down. Top up, the cockpit is well-sealed against the elements and noise, all the better to hear the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Above you is Magic Sky Control—who thinks up these names? But it’s cool, the glass ceiling going from nearly transparent to nearly opaque at a button’s touch, thanks to electrochromic technology.