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A manageable monster

The Mercedes SL 63 AMG is brutally fast, offensively expensive, but surprisingly easy to drive.

Vikrant Singh        Print Edition: Feb 8, 2009

I barely slept the night before. And it wasn’t the cold or the princely dinner in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. It was the car. The SL is special—gorgeous to look at with talkative eyes, a low slung stance and a sumptuous behind. And, since it’s just a two-seater, it’s also very romantic. But it wasn’t the car’s looks that kept me up at night counting the stitches on my borrowed pajamas. It was the thought of its engine—I was scheduled to drive it next morning and my nerves wouldn’t settle down. I was, after all, about to drive the SL 63 AMG.

AMG is a branch of Mercedes-Benz that takes a perfectly good Merc and puts it on steroids—pumps up the horsepower and torque, gives it stiffer suspension and big bling wheels with equally large brake rotors, so that it takes you from point A to point B in dramatic fashion. The acceleration, braking and handling prowess of an AMG is said to be so intense that it rearranges your organs. But, to be honest, the drive was a little underwhelming. There’s nothing wrong with the car, but when a car is said to accelerate from 0-100 kmph in barely 5 seconds, it ought to feel like a fighter jet with the after burners on. Not the SL 63. It just got off the line with no drama at all. And a blink later, we were past the 100 kmph mark. Seconds later, 200 was behind us. It just felt as if the speedometer was seriously overreading.

Now, the roads we were driving on were far from perfect. And I know that because minutes before, I was piloting an E-class. The E, too, is quite an able car, but with bad road undulations and poorly-designed bends, it was struggling to keep its cool at speeds over 150 kmph. The SL, on the other hand, was handling these roads at much higher speeds and with the poise of a girl back from prep school.

It was as if she was mocking me; telling me that I wasn’t pushing her hard enough, which believe me I was because I have never driven as fast, ever, on a public road in India. It just left me feeling horrible. Around bends where I was lifting off the throttle on the E, the SL was going around as flat as an ironing board with the throttle mashed to floor and at almost twice the speed. Unimaginable.

Then, there’s the sound of the naturally aspirated V8. It’s like listening to a heavy metal band gone berserk. It’s so intense; I melted in my seat every time I let the revs climb. The SL might be priced at almost Rs 2 crore. And it might be insanely quick, but it’s so easy to drive and so usable on our roads, I really can’t think of a better sports car for India. And if you are on the Forbes list, you ought to get one of these for yourselves

Specifications
Model SL 63 AMG
Engine 6.2-litre, V8
Max power 525 bhp
Max torque 630 Nm
Gearbox 7-speed automatic
0-100 kmph 4.6 seconds
Top speed 250 kmph (limited)
Price Rs 1.71 crore (ex-showroom)

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