2009 Mercedes-Benz SLs: Rip the Runway

Written by Kimatni D. Rawlins

There’s something passionate about driving a Mercedes-Benz SL around town on a brilliant Saturday morning, especially if you happen to be in Palm Springs for the weekend. With the clouds giving way to the Sun and traffic deferring to the SL, you will never deviate from your mission at hand. Luckily, I was in town solely to drive the legendary Benz convertible and study its habits and mannerisms. So my mission was simple.

The SL seems like it’s been around forever. I’m 16 years removed from high school and still recall the silver SL my mentor owned and took me for short drives in. Although I was an athlete, he always stressed the million other routes for becoming successful and owning my luxury vehicle. He was so right. My collegiate football career ended with a rack of transfers and coaching changes which ultimately denied me access to the NFL. Yet, I still managed to get behind the wheel of each generation of SL since I became an automotive journalist and publisher. For five decades now, Mercedes has been giving customers the best of the best when it comes to open air cruising. Landing in Hollywood in 1957, the quintessential roadster is on the top of the charts for every businessman, every baller, every entrepreneur and every desperate housewife.

For 2009, Mercedes-Benz has stepped up its dominance in the luxury convertible segment and has made it very difficult for challengers to even dent its notoriety. Especially since its three piece retractable roof offers the impersonation of both a coupe and a convertible in only 16 seconds. The Jaguar XK is lovely but can’t stand a chance; the BMW Six Series still uses a rag top; the Cadillac XLR is no more than a Corvette in a sexy suit, and the Lexus SC is better suited for the better half. So where does that leave us? Behind the three pointed star, of course!

The ‘09 SL is distinctively similar to the previous model year. The sleek outline, bubble top, and elongated hood are all natural characteristics of the SL. Most of its upgrades stem from newer technology with ride and handling, engine upgrades, and interior amenities. For instance, there is an upgraded sound system, heated headrest for chilly morning drives, iPod integration, SD card insert for music on the go, Bluetooth, “Intelligent Light System” with five lighting functions, “Active Body Control” that adapts to driving situations and much more. While the SL 500 and SL 600 use wood for interior trim, the AMGs flow mostly with carbon fiber trim and an all-leather AMG sport wheel. For more on pricing and on the AMG brutes, see AR Editor-in-Chief Brian Armstead’s accompanying review.

Minor nuisances include the not-so-easy to comprehend navigation system, blind spots from the wind screen, inconveniently placed cup-holders, and a trunk that competes with the stackable roof when it’s down. Yet, who needs trunk space when you have the joy of ripping runways in a Benz Roadster?

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