Vital Stats

6.0L V12
621 HP / 738 LB-FT
7-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
3.9 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
186 MPH (limited)
Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,299 LBS
14 City/21 HWY
Base Price:
As Tested Price:
Make way for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, the most wonderfully preposterous car I have ever driven.

There is absolutely no reason why any two-seat roadster should be fitted with a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 developing 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, but I sure am glad that Mercedes-Benz doesn't see things that way.

Drop into the leather-lined cockpit of this $213,145 provocateur, floor the accelerator pedal as I did over and over again, and 60 miles per hour falls in a traction-limited 3.9 seconds. Top speed has been electronically held to 186 mph (this apparently saves Gulfstream jet owners from embarrassment). Forget the SL550 and SL63 AMG, the valets will trip over themselves attending to the tycoon driving this thoroughbred – it's the real deal.

Driving Notes
  • The handcrafted 36-valve V12 returns with a new internal designation of M279 (replacing the M275) and a matte carbon-fiber engine cover. Mercedes-Benz has updated the powerplant's turbochargers and improved engine airflow for the 2013 model year. This explains the 17-horsepower improvement and efficiency gains over its predecessor. The venerable five-speed automatic was also replaced with AMG's Speedshift seven-speed transmission (offering electronically controlled Efficiency, Sport, Sport Plus and Manual modes), and the SL65 AMG now features an engine start-stop function.
  • Acceleration rates normally flatten as aerodynamic drag rises. The SL65 AMG seems to do just the opposite as it picks up speed like a rocket leaving the earth's pull of gravity. Full throttle applications release a throaty growl from the quad exhaust, accompanied by spine-chilling burbles as the transmission catches each gear. Downshifts are equally as pleasing as the V12 cackles and pops as each gear falls. Yet, during steady cruising the exhaust note is perfectly tame and proper.
  • Despite is substantial physical size, the SL65 AMG is surprisingly agile. It tracks well and the new electrically boosted steering is precise and nicely weighed. Cornering is flat, thanks to Active Body Control (offering both Sport and Comfort settings). The 19-inch wheel and upgraded monobloc brake package (lifted right off the enthusiast-tuned SL63 AMG), does its job commendably.
  • The cabin is a smart mix of luxury and sport. What leather doesn't cover is made of either woven carbon-fiber or brushed aluminum. The infinitely adjustable quilted seats are heated and equipped with the automaker's neck-heating Airscarf. The meaty three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel is wrapped in smooth leather with grippy Alcantera sides and aluminum wheel-mounted paddle shifters are standard. The convertible hard top, with its lightweight magnesium frame encircling the automaker's trick Magic Sky Control dimming feature, can be raised or lowered in about 20 seconds at the touch of a button.
  • Don't confuse the SLS AMG GT Roadster with the SL65 AMG, as each has very different role. The SLS is a true sports car, with a mission-appropriate ride, gnarly exhaust snarl and a moderate level of amenities. The SL65, on the other hand, is a luxury grand tourer engineered to make miles pass effortlessly beneath it chassis. One does not replace the other – a true boss owns both.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      621 hp is completely crazy (good) but anyone else think that twin turbo V12 pushing "ONLY" 621 horses is looking a little sluggish? It seems like everyone has caught up with Mercedes on this front. BMW - Twin Turbo V8 = 560hp Chevy - Supercharged V8 = 638 SRT V10 NA - 640hp Ford Supercharged V8 - 662hp. 5-6 years ago there was nothing in this class of engine. M5 JUST got 500hp. Mustang was at like 400hp, Vette was at 505hp (Z06) But now it seems like everyone caught Mercedes in the HP wars. I would have liked to have seen at least 650hp from a V12 with twin turbo. Hell Dodge gets about 650 out of a V10 (NO twin turbos). Add turbos to their cars and they are up over 1000hp.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ graphikzking, you're thinking like a boy racer. Of course they could make more horsepower out of this engine, it's the same engine they use in the Pagani Huayra. The point of the SL65 is to be a luxury GT, the engine has to be smooth, like the BMW engines they use in Rolls Royce cars, big engines running smoothly with minimal vibrations. If you want more, get the Brabus version.
      • 1 Year Ago
      What a machine!! If only the could do something about that nose geez.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great car with a fabulous interior and power aplenty, but the exterior was kind of a miss, in my opinion. Maybe it was designed by several different teams who couldn't work together, but it looks like a failed attempt at making a car look futuristic. But then again, this is my opinion, and I know there are some of you out there who think this looks great. Hey, we've all got our own opinions, right?
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love this car and I will have a non AMG version at some point in the very near future. The price is the biggest hurdle but I love the styling. I agree there is a lot to compete with at this price point so the loaded AMG might struggle in sales... Personally I love what they have done with the interior and those seats look amazing!!!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Remember when the SL looked good?
        • 1 Year Ago
        I can't remember them looking all that good when you go 3-4 years back. They do look these days though. Even the A series finally looks like business.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Worst looking SL since the 70's / 80's
        • 1 Year Ago
        I agree. To think I used to put up posters of sls in my room...
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ehh. I'll take the R8, thanks...
      • 1 Year Ago
      STYLING sucks. Former SLs were far better looking
        • 1 Year Ago
        The early 90s was the sweet spot for me. Nothing since than has looked as fresh for its time.
      joe shmoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      still fugly. and doesn't look like 200k car.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh my God. All you people who're knocking this miraculous car blow my mind. How any of you ever owned an SL65 in say, the past 10 years? My guess is not a single one of you. I can tell you that this vehicle, if any improvement over the 2006 for example, has to be one of the most mind-altering, extraordinarily engineered vehicles in history. A twin-turbo, hand-built AMG V-12??? You have no earthly idea what you're talking about. All this, and a hard-top convertible to boot? I defy you to throw out any example of anything comparable (that you've actually owned and driven). Good luck!
        • 1 Year Ago
        " I defy you to throw out any example of anything comparable" 662-hp Shelby GT500. Considering it won against the CL63 on EVO. Having driven a Ferrari 458 a couple of times on a track, still the SL gets kudos, the car is a monster and likely a blast to drive.
          • 1 Year Ago
          He said comparable, not just another piece of junk (relative to the Benz) with a lot of HP. M
      • 1 Year Ago
      There's nothing about this car worth $217,000. It's ugly on the outside and nothing special inside. All it has is the engine, but that doesn't warrant the price.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Echoing the sentiment that, for that much money, you can have so many other more exotic things. I think the high-end AMGs exist solely to give us something to briefly consider on eBay motors 5 years later when they\'re depreciated to under $30K.
        Carbon Fibre
        • 1 Year Ago
        Most professionals and people with money just lend the car, increase credit, give it away, hence depreciation.
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