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2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL65 AMG Roadster Review By Larry Nutson

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2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class SL65 AMG Roadster

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Roadster
60th Anniversary of the Iconic SL Review

by Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, New York Bureau
The Auto Channel

The opportunity doesn’t come along often for auto writers to drive an exotic. When it does you have to grab it.

In May I had the chance to get up close, get inside, and drive the Mercedes-Benz very beautiful and very expensive 2013 SL65 AMG Roadster. This drive opportunity occurred first at the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) Spring Brake in Bear Mountain, New York, which is located just to the south of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The second was at the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally held at Road America Race Track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

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Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But, price is very black and white and for the SL65 AMG it starts at $212,240. So what do you get for all that cash? For motivation-power how about a 6.0-L, V12 Biturbo engine cranking out 621HP and a whopping 738 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 7-speed AMG Speedshift automatic. The powertrain will rocket the SL65 from stop to 60mph in 3.9secs, and top end comes at 186mph.

EPA test fuel economy ratings are nothing to brag about. But, you don’t buy this car to hypermile. And although equipment includes an ECO Start/Stop System, EPA highway test rating is 21mpg, EPA city test rating is 14mpg, for an EPA combined test rating of 17mpg. So… the 19.8 gallon fuel tank should easily take you on a weekend road trip from your garage out into some nice country driving roads and back without refueling. For this road trip one should pack light. If you figure on top-down driving there is only space for 8.5cuft of cargo in the trunk…but that should work out just fine on a day trip. The trunk picks up 5cuft with the top up.

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This is the sixth generation of the iconic Mercedes-Benz SL now with an all-new aluminum unit body. Although the new SL for the 2013 model year is about two inches longer and wider, its aluminum frame is more than 200 pounds lighter than the previous model. Most of the body panels are also aluminum, while high-strength steel is used in the roof pillars. Overall, the new SL body is about 20 percent stiffer than the car it replaces. A continuum of the original meaning of the SL designation “super” and “light”.

I have mixed views on matte finish paint schemes with no doubt a lot depending on body style. I happened to like the designo Magna Alanite Grey on this SL65, especially paired with the Red/Black Exclusive Leather interior. The paint cost $3950 more, the red painted brake calipers another grand, and the AMG exterior carbon fiber package rings up at $3570.

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The diamond pattern on the seats was much to my liking, perhaps because it’s not often seen in cars. I got the feeling I was in my living room. The list of standard safety equipment is pretty much all inclusive. There’s a rearview camera and a nice Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound system that I am sure is best enjoyed with the top up, lest you share your music tastes with the entire neighborhood. Seats are both heated and ventilated to go along with the sun-reflecting leather upholstery. A Power Wind Blocker helps keep his and her hair in place. The Command System with navigation will help you find your way.

If you’ve got the top up because perhaps it’s just too darn hot, the MAGIC SKY CONTROL features a glass roof panel, in which the tinting of the panel can be controlled by the driver or passenger. In an instant, a button above the rear-view mirror can change the roof panel from transparent to heavily tinted, using technology similar to automatic dimming mirrors.

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MAGIC VISION CONTROL sounds somewhat exotic but is quite simple. The wiper arms and blades in the new SL feature laser-cut passages along the entire length of each blade, which distributes washer fluid directly in front of the moving wiper blades. A separate electronic control unit ensures that washer fluid changes its flow each time the wipers change direction. This targeted washer fluid improves cleaning without impairing driver visibility during the spray process…think about cleaning the windshield at 186mph. The control unit also changes the amount of washer fluid as vehicle speed and outside temperature change. The volume of fluid is also reduced automatically when the top is down, so occupants can clean the windshield without getting sprayed with washer fluid. How courteous!

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So I enjoyed my opportunity with the SL65 AMG, although it was short and sweet. I can tell you that 100 mph comes on real fast. Ride and handling on some twisty-windy-hilly roads was very comfortable. The SL65 AMG is not a handful to drive but can deliver a bunch very quickly. If you want to shop exotics you can do that right here on For more detailed information and specs on the complete Mercedes-Benz model range visit

Wave as I wiz by you on the Autobahn.

© Larry Nutson