16 April 2004

Mercedes has shoe-horned the Maybach’s twin-turbo V12 into its biggest roadster to create a 604bhp SL 65 AMG.

Most of the figures read out at the car’s New York Motor Show debut were hypothetical: telephone digits such as 738lb ft of torque (1000Nm) available from 2000-4000rpm. A ‘mere’ 420lb ft is available at 1000rpm.

Such prodigious torque is bound to guarantee outrageous performance and Mercedes claims 0-62mph in 4.2sec and a top speed limited to 155mph. Fiddle with the electronic limiter, and well over 200mph is certain; our German sister magazine AMS drove a derestricted SL 55 AMG and hit 202mph.

Mercedes is seemingly embroiled in a horsepower and torque race, chasing ever-higher figures; the V8 SL 55 AMG, which continues in production, isn’t exactly slow and has an adequate 493bhp and 516lb ft.

The twin-turbo V12 feeds its power through the AMG five-speed automatic ’box, which offers a manual shift mode via steering-wheel buttons. The rest of the SL package has been upgraded, too: new drive shafts, wheel bearings and a limited-slip differential cope with the new range-topper’s extra grunt.

Active Body Control is standard, quelling body roll in corners, and a sports mode provides stiffer damping.

Hauling in all that speed is a composite brake system, while 19-inch wheels wear fat 255/35 rubber up front and 285/30 boots at the rear. A V12 Biturbo badge on the front wings differentiates it from lesser models.

The new SL 65 AMG will be launched in September and UK sources suggest a price here of around £145,000 – another fittingly telephone number-sized figure.

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