Buyers of high-performance convertible Mercedes are spoiled for choice right now. If it’s a razor-sharp drive and crackling soundtrack you’re after, then the SLS Roadster will more than satisfy. But for £8,700 less, the top-spec SL65 AMG serves up thrills in a more low-key fashion – albeit with an incredible 1,000Nm of torque.
Vital to the SL’s iron fist in velvet glove approach is its 6.0-litre twin-turbo V12. While the V8-powered SL63 barks
into life, the V12 burbles, idling at 600rpm. It rumbles rather than shouts from under the bonnet in town, and remains smooth and civilised – thanks to electronics that keep torque minimised so you don’t trouble the traction control when you pull away from traffic lights.
The heavy-duty seven-speed automatic gearbox works well when up and running, but low-speed shifts can be jerky. The steering is light and visibility is good, making the SL65 less daunting than you’d expect.
Switch the AMG button on, whir the roof back into the boot and you can hear the V12’s smooth, but aggressive, engine note a little better. Even in the most aggressive mode, though, the SL65 isn’t suited to B-road blasts – it’s heavy, at over two tonnes with a passenger on board. Our car did benefit from superb optional ceramic brakes to keep its mass in check – but they cost an extra £10,000.
If you leave twisty roads to SLS drivers and switch the SL back to its comfort setting, there are few better long-distance cruisers. At 70mph, the engine whispers along at 1,700rpm, yet instant acceleration is just a flex of your foot away. Wind and tyre noise are very well suppressed and the seats are extremely comfortable.