Mercedes-Benz SL550 Convertible (2013): Full Review – Part 4

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 4:36:14 by

Under the SL’s hood hums a 4.6-liter V-8 biturbo engine that’s as much a work of art as the chassis. Direct-injection technology, a defeatable autostop feature, and an Econ shift program on the seven-speed automatic transmission help this mill to average 16 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg according to EPA’s combined calculations. These aren’t great numbers compared with your average passenger car, but from a machine that makes 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, I’ll take what I can get.

I’m sure that the stock SL550 Roadster’s suspension tune makes it a fantastic handler, but I can’t confirm it, because our tester was equipped with the optional $4,090 Active Body Control (ABC) adaptive-suspension package. Like most adaptive-suspension packages, ABC features two modes (Sport and Comfort), but it does quite a bit more. At the tap of a button, the SL can be raised about 2 inches to clear speed bumps and other obstructions at low speeds. As the speed increases, ABC also lowers the vehicle below the static ride height (maxing out at about 0.5 inch at about 80 mph) to reduce wind resistance for better fuel economy and reduced noise and lower the center of gravity for better high-speed stability. While all of this is happening, the four dampers at the corners of the vehicle are constantly adjusting to provide the best responsiveness or comfort. You can watch all of this ride height adjustment and damper tweaking happening on the Comand system’s color display alongside a two-axis G-force meter, but I’d recommend that you instead keep those eyes up and ahead.

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