New to the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for 2005 is the SL65 AMG, which takes the monster twin-turbocharged V12 from the equally new CL65 AMG and puts it in a drop-top version.

The 6.0-litre V12 makes 604 hp and a stunning 738 lb-ft of torque; only the SLR McLaren, at US$450,000, is more powerful. The transmission is an electronic five-speed automatic with Touch Shift and SpeedShift, which operates in “direct-drive” mode in second to fifth gears for the feel of a manual transmission under spirited driving. It also automatically downshifts during hard braking, and prevents upshifts during hard cornering.

The SL65 is also equipped with Sensotronic Brake Control, which transmits brake pressure individually to each wheel based on driver input and various vehicle parameters. It modulates brake pressure when coming to a stop during normal braking; it applies the brakes lightly when the windshield wipers are on to dry the rotors; and it sets the brake pads closer to the disc when the driver releases the accelerator quickly, for fast braking response. It’s a lot of technology and it has its adherents, but it’s a bit more control than some drivers would like to relinquish. Active Body Control (ABC) features split-second, automatic damping adjustment, using high-pressure hydraulics and two microcomputers, to all but eliminate body roll and movement during acceleration, cornering and braking.

The SL65 comes with such standard features as ventilated 12-way power seats clad in Nappa leather upholstery, hand-polished burl walnut wood trim, power-adjustable steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-speaker Bose sound system with CD changer and concealed cassette player, auto-dimming mirrors, infrared rain sensors, DVD-based navigation system, bi-xenon headlamps with washers and cellular telephone. A key with proximity sensor, heated steering wheel, and radar-guided Distronic adaptive cruise control are available, as well as an optional panorama retractable roof with large glass panel.

The hardtop retracts at the touch of a button and offers the weatherproof, quiet convenience of a fixed roof when it’s up. Stunningly styled, the SL65 is the fastest roadster the company has ever offered, but with luxury features, a smooth ride and precise handling that offset the engine’s pure brute strength.

The SL65 is built in Bremen and Afalterbach, Germany.

Connect with