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2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550

Rafay Ansar

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As-tested price: $109,465
Drivetrain: 5.5-liter V8; RWD, seven-speed automatic
Output: 382 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 391 lb-ft @ 2,800-4,800 rpm
Curb weight: 4,220 lb
Fuel economy (EPA/AW): 16/17.9 mpg
Options: Premium I Package including active ventilated multicontour seats, electronic trunk closer, AIRSCARF, keyless ignition ($3,750); Distronic ($2,230); panorama roof with sunshade ($1,950); SL wheel package including 19-inch AMG wheels, sport steering wheel with shift paddles, smoke-colored headlamps and tail lamps, silver front-brake calipers ($1,950); full leather seating package including leather upholstery, wood/leather steering wheel and shift knob ($1,510)

OUR TAKE: The formula for Mercedes-Benz's SL hasn't changed much since 1989, but for the addition of the latest in technological gadgetry and a power-folding hardtop. It's a beautiful, expensive, luxury car, which is fine if you accept it for what it is--a big, two-seat hardtop convertible better suited for cruising than cutting tight corners.

But in a sports-car context, the SL seems big, heavy and ponderous. Reaction times from the seven-speed automatic are slow, the steering is heavy (but hyper-responsive), and the braking action seems somehow delayed, leaving you with a "whoa!" feeling far too often.

The car is a great driver for those who want to settle in and enjoy the ride, maybe with the top down, the audio system soothing with smooth jazz, the seat massager in full motion and the Distronic keeping track of speed and following distance. But those seeking more edge in their sports cars might want to look elsewhere, because nothing about this car makes you want to drive it like you stole it.
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