Mercedes took a wholly original route to its new lineup of sport coupes, and I like it.
It doesn’t do everything but has one of the most attractive looks, a great interior, a sophisticated sport utility and, best of all, the power to drive that’s missing from most modern sedans.
I drove the SL550 from its debut in Europe and then here, which is now running nicely below $75,000 for a stripped-down model with an equipment level that bodes well for the rest of the range.
This sleek new sport sedan is basically what a conventional Mercedes coupe should be, only more quiet and with a touch more room. Look for it on the road and at a side window, and you’ll see Mercedes is delivering on promises to improve the driving experience.
“Intelligent” Mercedes says this car makes “zero mistakes” — and it does. From a high-speed reverse into a parking spot to giving away steering wheel position, the SL helped make Mercedes “the world’s most technologically advanced premium car.”
This sort of technological wizardry has yet to trickle down into prices for all Mercedes cars, but the base SL550 will cost $85,400 including freight, but the many star features should spark more interest in prices the initial flagship shows.
Besides the screens and AI that Mercedes has so invested in, the SL also has an on-board, three-ringed air filtration system that retails for $5,000. It filters noise pollution as well as the more than 30 times of dirt and dust it collects inside the car.
It also has a transfusion system to help people with health ailments. There’s an on-board computerized blood pressure monitor to measure the pulse, and a PC built into the center console that keeps an eye on other vital signs.
A foot pedal allowed me to adjust the air temperature and on-board air pump, and this car has a water-sipping air filtration system.
If you don’t think what’s under the hood is important, it is. The SL550 gets a V8 engine and its pure-blooded power is generated in no small part by a transmission that uses electric motors in the first gear and the full-fledged engine power in the second and third.
Like other sports cars, the SL is economical at highway speeds and will go along with your day in business casual.
Latter-day Mercedes standards include a spare tire and a chunky carrying capacity in the back.
Accompanying the SL in its new six-cylinder speedster line is a new GLK350 and GLK350 Cabriolet. Both use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with curb weight of about 2,500 pounds. But the GLK350 is more of a daily driver, with more wagon aesthetic charm.
That means instead of your SL and GLKX you’ll be getting a GLK300 and GLK300M. I find it easily easier to drive the GLK300s on paved roadways while the GLK350s on dirt roads in snowstorms are quite fun.
The cargo space behind the seats is limited, but the GLK and GLK350M are easy to drive with these two engines. Two other models, the AMG GLK350 and the GLK350S450 are now equipped with V8 engines.
Final appearances must be made for the GLK-Class to be considered a legitimate full-fledged sport utility. It’s debatable, but all I can say is that the great new GLK is bigger than a lot of passenger cars, and has a few more foot-pounds of room.
The tester from AMG AMG Mercedes was tricked out with a host of high-tech, adaptive driving features, including a lane-change assist, adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking and an amazing sport suspension.
There’s a 4.0-liter V8 on offer for all GLK-Class models and one model will have a whopping 6.0-liter V12 if you want to drive the techy, on-road. Even at just over $83,000, the GLK350 costs much less than its European counterparts.