Mercedes-Benz SL500 Roadster

Bends are a breeze in this costly new Benz

Price: £83,455
Engine capacity: 4.7-litre twin turbo V8
Power output (BHP@rpm): 429 @ 5,250
Top speed (mph): 155 (limited)
0-62 mph (seconds): 4.6
Fuel economy (mpg): 31.0
CO2 emissions (g/km): 212

It can be a risky business planning a weekend away in a convertible in September. To bask in the heat of an Indian summer with the roof down or sit cramped with the roof up as rain hammers down? If we're honest, it's a risk convertible drivers face all summer long in Britain, one that, along with the recession, is probably why top-down sales have dropped almost 50 per cent since 2007.

At just over £83,000 the new Mercedes SL500 won't be the car to reverse that sales slide. It will, however, for the lucky few, go some way to taking the wet-weather risk out of open-top motoring. It's only the sixth-generation SL since the company launched its grand tourer in 1954 and aims, as ever, to offer the world's wealthy the exhilaration of open-top sports performance with all the luxury (lots and lots) that Mercedes-Benz can muster.

It does this in part with a proper hard-top roof that folds out in 20 seconds and turns the SL from a convertible for summer into a coupé for the other 11 miserable months of year. The SL500, the most powerful SL before the bonkers AMG Sports version, also gets a 4.7-litre twin-turbo engine to push this contraption, plus matte paint, luxury-leather heated seats and bags of gadgets, to 60mph in just 4.6 seconds. Make no mistake, the SL500 might boast a proper roof and a clever gadget to keep your neck warm as you storm along with the roof down far too late in the year, but it's not soft. It's seriously fast.

To test this blend of unaffordable but wonderful luxury and top-end performance, I head north for a 700-mile round-trip to the Lakes. I made the same run earlier this year in a high-spec BMW-3 Series and the first shock is that the SL500 is just as comfortable (if not more so, thanks to its air suspension) as the luxury saloon. The ride is silky smooth and there's practically no wind or tyre noise on the motorway. Of course you should expect this for the money, but it is still impressive that the car has turned a two-seater bruiser of a sports car into something that wafts along with such ease. The fuel economy doesn't disappoint either as Mercedes has worked hard to make the SL 140kg lighter than the model it replaces by using an aluminium construction.

This cruising luxury and new-found efficiency is all well and good, but it's on the B-roads of Britain that the SL500 is really at home. First off, this isn't a car designed for raw driving pleasure – opt for a Porsche 911 or Jaguar XK if that is your thing – instead it's for progressing rapidly, yes, but for doing it in style with the top down. And with the sun out last weekend it did this very well indeed. It's composed, calm and perfect for covering miles quickly with a minimum of fuss. And if the mood does take you, it is only a click of a reassuringly chunky and expensive switch to engage manual mode, drop a gear and unleash some of its 429 horses to overtake (or show off) with ease.

Perhaps the engine note is not brash enough and the steering is a little light, but it's pretty and people will look at you. That, I suspect, is just what its owners will want, because if you can afford a car like this, you don't really need to be driving fast to show it off. You just need a little sunshine.

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

    £18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power