Mercedes-Benz SL550 Convertible (2013): Full Review – Part 6

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 4:35:50 by

Selecting the Sport shift program and the Sport ABC mode, the SL550 comes alive. Lower gears are held slightly longer and downshifts are easier to request and predict with the accelerator pedal, sacrificing a few mpgs to have all 429 thoroughbreds on tap when you need them. The chassis also felt more responsive to steering input, although the adaptive nature of the system still soaked up much of the harshness of the road. Unless you’re rounding a bend, you probably won’t notice much difference between Sport and Comfort modes, so I elected to just leave it in Sport for much of my testing.

The SL550 also features a manual shift mode actuated by steering-wheel paddles, but I found timing the shifts of the conventional manual transmission tricky and elected to let the Sport program do the thinking for me.

Active bolsters on the seats can be set to inflate to hold the driver and passenger in place during cornering. I found this system to be annoying at anything less than eight-tenths of where I estimate the Benz’ capabilities lay and left it either off or at its lowest setting most of the time.

The SL550 is a brilliant automobile. Sure, Comand Online is a train wreck, but it doesn’t ruin the vehicle that Mercedes’ chassis and engine engineers and designers have built around it. There’s just so much to like about being behind the wheel of a big, red Benz that I find myself over 3,000 words into this review and I haven’t even touched on the safety features such as the Mbrace telematics system, the lane-keep assistance system, the precollision warning system, the blind-spot monitoring, and the rearview camera with proximity detection and Parktronic parking assistance. If they never venture into the Comand Online menu, I think most owners will be pleased with their SL550 Roadster purchase — at least until they see someone valeting an SL63 AMG.

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