Stop and smell the roses? Not in this car, babe.
Open the door to the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 and take a seat. It envelops you in a loving, buttery, welcome-home-to-mama embrace.
Caress the steering wheel and it’s your hands that say “ahh.”
This latest iteration of a German-engineered car approaching near perfection is a far cry from the one that started it all in 1954 with its gull-wing doors, near- Spartan interior (by today’s enriched standards) and relatively small footprint of 168.9 by 68.5 inches.
Today’s version is wider at 82.6 inches and longer at 182.4 inches. Its all-aluminum body shell still doesn’t make it lighter than the 1954 version that weighed in at just 2,755 pounds. The 2013 model is 3,947 on the scale.
But don’t let the extra pounds fool you; there’s no fat, and ounce for ounce it can outmuscle the gull-wing and hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The first SL took 7.1 seconds to do the same.
Powering the SL550 coupe is a refined V8 engine that, according to the folks at Mercedes-Benz headquarters, “gets up to 14 percent better fuel economy while producing more power – an astounding feat, considering that increasing power or fuel economy is usually an either-or scenario.”
The other innovative aspect of this engine is that it is not unlike HAL, the all-knowing supercomputer from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” in that it is hardwired with a fuel-saving system that kills the engine when the brake pedal is depressed. As soon as you hit the accelerator, the engine computer picks the piston that is in the best position for first ignition and “the direct fuel injection and multispark systems work with a starter motor to seamlessly restart the engine.” Thank you, HAL.
Even when parked this SL looks like it’s in motion with its horizontal accents grooved into the body and side mirrors like the sleek lines your partner creates when she takes her fingers and pulls back your wet hair.
The front of the car with its honeycomb grill lets others know that there’s a sweet ride behind it. It also says that you have “arrived.”
“People who don’t have to prove anything buy this car,” said Peter Wirth, general sales manager with Mercedes-Benz of White Plains. It’s a car you “mature into,” Wirth said.
Are there buyers? Of the dozen cars that were arriving at the dealership, nine were sold sight unseen and without a perfunctory test drive. That says a lot about a brand that’s nearing its 60th – that’s six zero – birthday, a feat not often seen in the auto industry.
If you want to show off the interior – and why wouldn’t you? – the hardtop collapses onto itself in one smooth cantilevered move and disappears in the trunk in a mere 16 seconds. That’s about equivalent to reading these two sentences.
OK, so you’re tooling down the road, the top’s down and the back of your neck is feeling a bit cold. Well, then click on the AIRSCARF, a heating system in the headrest that will warm that skin and ease any aches. Cancel the masseuse.
For your inner geek, this car comes totally mashed up with a command control in the center arm rest equipped with a 40GB hard-drive GPS navigation, iPod/MP3 media interface, in-dash six-disc DVD/CD changer, in-dash SD memory card reader and a 10-speaker harman/kardon surround-sound system with Dolby Digital 5.1. Wait, Nicki Minaj not coming through clear enough? Then upgrade to a Bang & Olufsen Beo SoundSurround Sound System for $6,400.
One last thing, German engineers know that we Americans love our golf. So after 18 holes, why put down the bag, reach for the keys, open the trunk and place said bag in the trunk? Just kick a foot under the rear bumper and voilà it opens.
Hop in the car and cue Nicki.
“Starships were meant to fly, Hands up, and touch the sky…