Mercedes-Benz SL600

By Paul Riegler on 14 February 2010
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The SL roadster has been in the Mercedes lineup since 1957. SL600_2009_SL600_IMG_9517_largeNow in its fifth generation, the SL has featured a retractable hardtop since 2003.  According to Mercedes lore, the original 300SL roadster was created with the Southern California market in mind.

The SL was updated in 2009 and features a sporty new front fascia that is intended to connect visually with the 300SL.   Inside the elegant but slightly cramped cockpit, a new three-spoke steering wheel heralds a new variable-ratio steering system that makes the car very responsive on winding roads.  Add in the unbridled 612 pound-feet of torque from the car’s V-12 powerplant, and there are few cars on the road today that can beat it.

After 50-plus years of refining this particular model, change comes in subtleties.  The SL now features Airscarf, a system that blows warm air onto one’s neck and lives up to its name by creating an invisible air scarf around the head and neck when the top is down.   And yes, it makes a difference in comfort.

A new media interface makes for simplified connections to an iPod or USB stick although I found the controls could use simplification.  Mercedes’ satnav still lacks the split screen other carmakers have adopted but the ability to display instructions within the instrument cluster partially makes up for it.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SL600
Base price/price-as-tested $136,100/$141.525
Drivetrain Rear-wheel drive
Engine 5.6 liter V-12-cylinder SOHC twin-turbo
Transmission 5-speed automatic with Touch Shift
Curb weight (pounds) 4,455
Weight distribution ??
Wheelbase 100.8
Length x width x height 178.5 / 80.0 / 51.0
0-60 mph (seconds) 4.4
EPA city/highway fuel economy (mpg) 11/18
Hardtop down/up (seconds) 16
Trunk capacity (hardtop down/raised) (cu. ft.) 7.2/10.2

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