Sean O'Grady enjoys the world's most powerful roadster - but at what a price

It's easy to say what the most impressive thing about the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG is. It's the price tag. The car DaimlerChryslerlent me for a few days of plutocracy by proxy would cost £149,000, on the road, including VAT, delivery, plates and road tax. Plus a few options; keyless-go (£860, fun); Linguatronic voice activation of phone and audio (£310, couldn't fathom); panoramic vario-glass sunroof (£1,390, very nice) and tyre pressure monitor (£470, handy).

It's easy to say what the most impressive thing about the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG is. It's the price tag. The car DaimlerChryslerlent me for a few days of plutocracy by proxy would cost £149,000, on the road, including VAT, delivery, plates and road tax. Plus a few options; keyless-go (£860, fun); Linguatronic voice activation of phone and audio (£310, couldn't fathom); panoramic vario-glass sunroof (£1,390, very nice) and tyre pressure monitor (£470, handy).

Now I know what you're thinking: that's a lot of money for a two-seater roadster, even the most powerful one in the world. Even one with a V12 twin-turbocharged, hand-assembled, AMG-tuned engine, developing 612bhp and capable of taking you to more than twice the legal speed limit, with 60 mph coming up in 4 seconds. You might even be thinking that it's an awful lot of money, especially seeing as, for about £50,000 less, you could buy a SL55 AMG with a V8 engine that gives you almost as much fun. You might be thinking that you could spend the money you've saved on an M class 4x4 and a little A class too. Then you'd have a Merc for every occasion.

If you're really into saving cash, you'd be thinking, why not buy an SL350? That's not much more than £60,000. A bargain, especially if you asked someone who was handy with a screwdriver to fit it with some of the bodykit addenda from its more expensive siblings.

Well, those are the sort of thoughts that go through my mind, and that would explain why I find myself at the wheel of an SL65 AMG for only a few days rather than as an everyday motor. For the folk who run these sort of cars don't have to have those sort of thoughts.

They don't have to think those sort of thoughts because they can afford an SL65 and any other combo of car, house and boat they like without even thinking about thinking about it. They don't have to choose. If they're into cars, they'll have a little fleet of indulgences. They won't all be tasteful choices, because there are limits to what money can buy. But they won't be purchased with too close an eye on the list price.

Which leaves me to mention the second most impressive thing about an SL65 AMG; the way it goes. For me, this is only the second most impressive thing because, due to a combination of sheer terror and the law relating to speed limits, I only got close to sampling a small slice of the performance pie. Despite all the sophisti-cated electronic stability controls you could still quite easily get yourself into a little bit of trouble in this car. It's supposed to be a classic relaxed cross-continental cruiser, but the concentration it demands is awesome and the penalties for a lapse too awful to contemplate. It gave me a headache.

In an SL65, you have to be sensible, and remember that having loads of money doesn't make you a brilliant driver.

Search for used cars

Comments