SL 63: Bargain of the bunch?
WHAT PRICE BEING No.1? The Mercedes SL 63 V8, at half a million rands less than the SL65 ubersupercar, loses very little in the performance contest. Image: LES STEPHENSON
The 2012 Mercedes V12 SL 65 AMG may be the big daddy of the high-performance trio which roared on to the South African auto market this month (September 2012) but the V8 SL 63 is a darn close second – but R500 000 less expensive.
Mercedes SA describes it as “an enticing mix of stylish design, extensive standard equipment and high levels of safety”. It also shares a lot of its equipment, styling and its aluminium bodyshell with the more powerful V12.
It also uses less fuel than its predecessor while administering its 395kW or, with the performance package, 415kW, to move its 1845kg at some serious speeds.
TWO POWER RATINGS
An enhanced AMG sports suspension, new AMG speed-sensitive sports steering, AMG high-performance composite brakes and AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed sports transmission come with the package – as does the AMG “twin-blade” radiator bar shared with the V12.
Eckart Mayer, vice-president for sales and marketing at MBSA, explained: “Supreme performance, high efficiency and two power ratings are offered by the SL 63 AMG. The AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine delivers 395kW and 800Nm or, with a performance package, 415kW and 900Nm.
“The result is phenomenal performance, underlined by a 0-100 time of 4.3 seconds - or 4.2 with the package.”
The smaller engine barely concedes performance to the V12 SL 65: 200km/h in 12.9 (12.6) seconds, top speed electronically limited to 250km/h (300with the AMG package) and NEDC combined fuel consumption listed as 9.9 litres/100km for either power rating.
The engine has an all-aluminium crankcase, two air-water-cooled turbochargers, quad valves, alternator management and stop/start. The AMG sports exhaust produces a distinctive sound.
SL 63 AMG key data at a glance:
Bore and stroke: 98x90.5mm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Output: 395kW at 5500rpm, 415kW at 5500rpm*
Max torque: 800Nm from 2000-4500rpm; 900Nm from 2250-3750rpm*
Vehicle weight: 1845kg
Fuel consumption: 9.9 litres/100km
CO2 emissions: 231g/km
Acceleration: 0-100 4.3sec; 4.2sec*
Top speed: 250km/h**; 300km/h*
*With AMG performance package; ** electronically limited
The 63 has a similar suspension to the 65 with a lower unsprung mass to benefit agility and response characteristics of the spring-and-damper units. It has an enhanced version of the AMG sports suspension based on active body control and to allow greater agility and faster cornering the SL 63 AMG has more negative camber all round and fully revised elasto-kinematics.
It also shares the 65’s body damping: Sport or Comfort settings, the latter for long journeys. The electro-mechanical AMG speed-sensitive sports steering gives, Mercedes claims, exceptional feedback at critical limits. Further standard equipment includes three-stage ESP, a speciality exclusive to AMG with "Sport Handling" mode for particularly keen drivers.
The AMG performance package includes a rear-axle differential lock.
Again, like the 65, the 63 has an AMG Speedshift seven-speed transmission with "C" (Controlled Efficiency), "S" (Sport), "S+" (Sport plus) and "M" (Manual) choices. In "C" mode, the stop/start function is active and switches off the eight-cylinder engine when stationary and the transmission characteristics are softer, with smooth and early gear changes. Second gear is generally used as the starting gear in this mode.
The engine and transmission are far more agile in "S", "S+" and "M" modes and stop/start is deactivated. Partial suppression of the cylinders briefly and precisely interrupts ignition and injection under full load for faster gearshifts – an audible (and welcome!) side-effect is the explosively emotive exhaust note.
The car has AMG high-performance composite brakes employing 390 x 36mm composite discs with six-piston fixed callipers at the front and 360 x 26mm discs with single-piston floating callipers at the rear. An electric parking brake is standard. Taking the AMG performance package swops out for even more high-performance, weight-optimised AMG ceramic brakes.
Five-spoked 19” AMG alloy rims in titanium grey come with 255/35 front and 285/30 rear tyres. An optionally is multi-spoke AMG forged wheels painted in titanium grey and with a polished finish with 255/35 19” front and 285/30 20” rear tyres.
“Other particularly eye-catching features,” Mercedes points out, “include the side sill panels and the "V8 BITURBO" logos on the vent grilles with silver fins. At the rear the AMG spoiler lip, the two pairs of chromed tail pipes of the AMG sports exhaust and the diffuser-style rear apron with body-coloured insert draw the design to a fitting conclusion.”
A Vario Magic Sky Control roof is standard to turn the roadster into a coupe in less than 20 seconds, its transparency switched to light or dark at the push of a button.
The SL 63 AMG cabin has been inspired by the SLS AMG: the four air vents styled like jet engines, an E-Select lever and AMG drive unit are all reminiscent of the other super sports-car's styling. Standard equipment includes AMG Nappa leather sports seats with V8 upholstery and AMG badges in the backrests, a multicenter function and seat heating (cooling) as well as AMG carbon-fibre trim, AMG illuminated sills, ambient lighting and an IWC-design analogue clock.
The AMG Performance steering-wheel has an AMG logo and the AMG instrument cluster provides a wealth of information with its TFT colour monitor, AMG start-up display, AMG main menu and Racetimer.
Other features are lane-attention assistance, parking warning, Airscarf neck-heating, Comand Online with a six-disc DVD changer, anti-theft alarm, Harman/Kardon surround-sound, remote-controlled boot release, smart lights, Neck-Pro ® Logic 7® surround sound, Neck-Pro head restraints, pre-collision protection, Distronic Plus cruise control, pop-up rollover bars and blind-spot warning.
Optional extras include BeoSound and a higher-performance driving package which raises the top speed restriction to 300km/h.
“The iconic SL sports car is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2012 and the AMG performance brand turns 45,” Mayer added. “It is fitting that we introduce these exciting cars during this milestone year.”
SL 63 AMG - R2 120 000
AMG performance package - R100 000
AMG driver’s package - R25 000
More on the SL 65
More on the SL500