2015 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG

The Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG is a hardtop convertible that seeks to strike an ideal balance between prodigious performance and coddling luxury. The SL65 AMG slots above the standard SL550 and the V8-powered SL63.

SL is short for sport leitch, or "sport lightweight" in English, and Mercedes engineers went to great lengths to remove precious pounds from the SL in order to help it live up to its name. Underneath the sheetmetal is a low-weight aluminum bodyshell not unlike the one used in the SLS AMG supercar. High-strength steel is incorporated at key points to enhance rigidity, and carbon fiber used on the trunk lid's inner frame also helps trim weight. As a result, the SL65 tips the scale at about 4,300 pounds.

Life Aboard
Inside, the SL65 features a sporty, driver-focused cockpit with two bucket seats and a sporty three-spoke multi-function steering wheel. The instrument cluster is made up of four analog gauges and a configurable thin-film transistor screen that provides vital information about the car and its surroundings.

The SL comes standard with a high-resolution color touch screen that runs Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system. COMAND groups the SL's navigation, entertainment and connectivity functions into a single unit that can also be controlled using a controller knob on the center console, voice commands and buttons on the steering wheel.

The SL65 also comes with mbrace, a system which includes a host of cloud-based goodies including a concierge service, location-based traffic and weather updates, stolen vehicle location assistance, automatic collision notification and more. Available apps add internet browsing, Google local search with street view, Yelp reviews, Facebook access and news reports. Owners can even use an mbrance smartphone app to remotely lock, unlock or locate their SL63.

Under the Hood
The SL65 was designed as more of a high-performance grand-tourer than an all-out sports car. It is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 engine that generates 621 horsepower and a massive 738 lb-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The SL65 is capable of reaching 60 mph from a stop in 3.9 seconds. With a light right foot it returns 14 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.

Standard and Optional Features
The SL65 AMG is one of the most expensive members of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. It comes standard with nearly every conceivable feature including an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated and power-adjustable door mirrors, remote-activated perimeter lighting, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, front and rear fog lights, leather upholstery, cooled and heated seats with a massage function, dual-zone automatic A/C, a 900-watt sound system with 11 speakers, parking sensors on both ends, intelligent cruise control, variable power steering and a first aid kit.

Highlights from the long list of options include additional alloy wheel designs and paint colors, wood trim on the steering wheel, a carbon fiber exterior package, red brake calipers, an AMG performance steering wheel, an upgraded sound system, soft-close doors and carbon ceramic brakes.

Occupant Safety
In addition to traction and stability control systems, the SL65 AMG boasts six supplemental restraints including two-stage front airbags, dual knee airbags and dual side airbags. Roll over hoops mounted behind the seats provide an extra measure of protection.

Also standard is an Attention Assist system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.A. A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.

The optional Driver Assistance package bundles electronic driving aids like a radar-based adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot Assist, Pre-Safe brake and active lane keeping assist.

Key Competitors
In the market for a Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG? You might also look at the Ferrari California T, the Audi R8 V10 Spyder and the Porsche 911 Turbo Convertible.