The advent of the Dodge Challenger Hellcat may have started it, but the Mercedes SL65 AMG is now in a class of its own. A long-ago carmaker known as Landa has trumped both the Challenger Hellcat, the Ford Mustang and the Fiat 500 Abarth for best in class with this magnificent, 21-second 0-60-mph rating. This might sound a bit alarming, but it’s actually quite amazing how fast this AMG can go.
With a back seat big enough for a spare tire and a Corvette Z06 rear-mounted engine, this is the kind of car that could be flying home on the first holiday after you splurge on a huge family gathering. A dazzling array of 12-volt ventilated discs, 13 shock absorbers, and a six-speed gearbox that’s capable of changing ratios by itself and rotating speeds from 0-3 in just over 0.5 seconds set this SL in a class of its own. A revolutionary hybrid powertrain of 3.0 or 3.2-liter V8 produces an astonishing 577 horsepower, 195 pound-feet of torque and 240 horsepower per liter at 6,700 rpm. Even the small-displacement 4.0-liter V8, with 445 horsepower, will make the front seats burn as it muscles the car around.
To propel the powerful front wheels, Mercedes uses all-wheel drive. The steering wheel and doors have a memory feature where you can switch between one and the other, two or even three. There’s even a magnetorheological power assist system that makes for improved reliability in the event that you drop a lead foot.
Wander around the track with AMG and you’ll notice a healthy dose of emotion. Beneath that testosterone base is a school of smooth gears and stops that will make you feel as if you’re racing some of the best cars to have ever run on earth. There’s the pride of being at the top, but you also get to feel closer to the characters that race with you, whether it’s Pablo Picasso pulling alongside you or Jackie Stewart steering by your side. A coach feels as intense as a supercar, and a driver’s seat with a seat belt chimes like a drummer’s turntable.
Not all vehicles can cost this much, but we tend to overestimate what humans can get out of them. If you don’t like big brakes, don’t get a SL65 because they will make you speed around corners faster than you ever dreamed possible. If you’re concerned about “reminding” others what a mega car looks like, then get the SL63 because it’s almost the perfect size.
The SLS AMG is the most built car in the world. So you’re going to want a body that is as light as aluminum, but just as heavy. The 47-inch wheels are made out of Calibre and most other SLS models are known for their SLS V-12 that pumps out a staggering 911-horsepower.
As with other AMG cars, this one is driven with a full knowledge of its power. Not only does the car ride on carbon ceramic brakes, but because they are so stiff, it’s so predictable that you won’t have any issues exiting corners. The car has always been equipped with a full system that adjusts a downhill speed for when you’re braking and the break indicator system always gives you a decent idea of what you’re going to hit when you’re going down. As the driver, you’ll ride on the Mercedes-Benz Sport Dynamics (DSD) system, which limits when the brakes can do deep into the curves.
You get an overview of the latest technological advancements within the SLS family with a direct-view instrument cluster featuring seven different screens. The most important among them, however, is the drive-by-wire throttle that allows the driver to control the machine with a joystick and a throttle stick.
When you’re done with all the racy faces and BMW electronic spiders, you’ll take a rear-view camera with a button that pushes the car in reverse with a stylized door handle. Once the door handle comes off, you can manually flip the car over, and it’s both fun and liberating.