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Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster

Motoring Review

IT’S HARD to justify owning a car like the Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG in South Africa. It retails for over R2 million which, for a car, is a huge mountain of money. Just think how that money can be spent otherwise…

You could, for example, feed 800 families of four for a month if you were inclined to use your money for the well-being of others. The more selfish person could buy a three-bedroom house in Randburg and still have enough money left for a BMW 320i and Subaru BRZ.

Compared to all the practical things you could do with R2 million, the SL63 AMG makes no sense whatsoever. 
 
In many ways then, it’s what this car is all about. As Mercedes’ ultimate expression of wealth and status, it doesn’t need to make sense. You’re paying R2 million for an exclusive accessory that just also happens to be a car.

I like that about the SL63 AMG. It’s unapologetically vulgar to a point where writing a review for it just doesn’t matter anymore. To the people who love it, there is no substitute for the SL.

It takes but a few moments to fall in love with it. All you need do is slide in behind the steering wheel and push the start button, which awakens a 5.5-litre bi-turbo V8 that delivers 395kW and 800Nm of torque, or roughly four times as much power as you get from a Suzuki Swift Sport.

Pin the throttle to the floor and within 4.2 seconds you’ll be doing 100km/h. Keep your foot flat for another eight seconds to reach 200km/h. A few seconds after that the limiter kicks in at 250km/h, but if that seems a bit slow, you can pay Mercedes and extra R100 000 to up the power and remove the pesky limiter.

This blistering acceleration is accompanied by the best soundtrack this side of an Aston Martin V12. If I owned one of these things, I’d lower the roof and superglue the button that operates it in place.

Fortunately, the SL isn’t a one-trick pony. A dial next to the gear lever allows you to select how angry you want the car to be. In comfort mode, the suspension softens up and the noise settles down to a gentle murmur.

This mode also allows you to sit back and enjoy the sumptuous high-tech interior. For R2 million you get absolutely everything you could possibly need in a car and some things you never knew you wanted in the first place. For example, look no further than Magic Sky Control. It may sound like the SL allows you to take control of the weather, but it’s actually a smart roof with transparency control. It can switch from clear to opaque at the push of a button.

The SL is undoubtedly a sensational ride with a split personality, which makes it somewhat easier to justify the price. I’m still not 100% convinced, because there are other cars out there that do the same thing for a lot less moolah.

Oddly though, R2 million doesn’t buy perfection. The luggage tray in the boot was made from poor- quality plastic and it had already pulled out of its mounting. People who can afford cars like these don’t have cheap-plastic issues. People like me, who own a bargain-basement Ford, have those kinds of issues.
 
At the end of the day you have to sit back and enjoy the SL for what it really is: Mercedes-Benz showing off. It’s basically the oldest manufacturer in the world showing what it’s capable of doing when affordability to the consumer isn’t a consideration.

To someone with an average income, this car will never make sense, but to the select few who can afford it, it’s the ultimate Benz. That’s something worth paying for.

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