Of special interest is the new “no-splash” wiper system (Magic Vision Control) with multiple heated nozzles on either side of the blades. Water is sprayed directly onto the windshield and only from the leading edge of the wiper’s direction of travel. No going to Crappy Tire for replacement blades, then.

Equally “magical” is the optional Magic Sky Control panel ($2,500) for the retractable hardtop. If you wish to gaze into the sky without having to deal with wind, UV rays, or the occasional bird dropping, said roof will go from nearly opaque to clear with the touch of a button. It uses Research Frontier’s SPD-Smart light-control technology that re-aligns the light-blocking crystals embedded within the glass panel.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz SL 550 reviews mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz SL 550 reviews mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz SL 550 reviews mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550. Click image to enlarge

Mercedes-Benz Canada expects nearly every SL 550 sold will be spec’d with the $4,900 Premium Package. This adds rear-view camera, Keyless Go, hands-free power trunk opening/closing (wave your foot under the rear bumper), Air Scarf (blows warm air on your neck for those cooler top-down runs), and climate-controlled Dynamic-Drive Multi Contour seats. The latter have a number of air bladders that contour the seat to your liking and will also, if you so desire, provide four levels of back massage and/or instantly inflate either side bolster when lateral g-forces come into play. In previous Mercs, the latter function seemed a little slow to react, but here it worked splendidly, keeping us in place while we coursed these lovely roads.

With a 38 mm wider front track and a 63.5 mm increase in the rear, the 2013 SL turns in with more precision and feels more planted. The ABC (Active Body Control) adaptive suspension runs in Comfort or Sport mode, the latter keeping the roadster commendably flat when cornering.

That said, the SL 550 is still all about comfort, largely gliding over the road with regal indifference to the irregularities below. The variable-rate steering is well weighted and accurate but is devoid of any meaningful feedback. So the SL is not a car you’d take to the track, nor is it really meant to despite what the M-B PR types were telling us at the press presentation. Wait until late summer for the 5.5L bi-turbo V8 SL 63 AMG and 6.0L bi-turbo V12 SL 65 AMG if you really need an SL with an attitude problem.

All Canadian SL 550s come with 19-inch AMG wheels, AMG body styling and a larger brake package — all optional stuff on US cars.

Visually, the 2013 SL is considerably more butch than the outgoing model. It is broad shouldered and the bluff upright grill echoes that of its iconic ancestor, the 1954 SL300. Classis SL cues like the hood vents and side strakes behind the front wheel arches are present and accounted for.

The cars we drove were equipped with the $2,700 Advanced Driving Assistance Package that layers on safety technology in the form of Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control along with Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist. The latter two systems will nudge the car out of harm’s way or back into its lane via targeted braking inputs if the driver does not respond to the visual, audio and sensory alerts.

First on the 2013 SL 550’s Canadian menu will be ten Edition 1 models that get Crystal Silver Metallic paint, red Nappa leather, piano black interior trim, flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, and titanium grey 19-inch 5-spoke AMG alloys. Priced from $137,200, the Edition 1 includes the Premium Package and, of course, an extra helping of exclusivity, which in this sandbox is a desirable commodity.




About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).