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Driven: Mercedes-Benz SL500



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The SL-Class is one of Mercedes’ key products for high-spenders, alongside the S-Class saloon and GL-Class SUV.

All three provide luxury, comfort and elegance, but the SL also wraps those into a stylish and dynamic package that cries out for long, winding roads and clear skies.

With the premium sector enjoying the most of the demand in the current limited marketplace, Mercedes is quite well placed to win its share of sales. It sold 548 SLs in 2010 and now has the range on run-out.

The SL-Class got its second major revision in 2008.

That saw it gain performance, efficiency, bi-xenon headlamps and the carry across of the SLK’s optional airscarf neck heater for those wanting to get the roof down in chilly conditions.

A 5.5-litre V8 engine is at the heart of the flagship SL500 we tested. It’s a car which buyers could use every day for stress-free commuting, with its smooth ride, comfortable cabin and raft of executive equipment including the Comand multimedia centre and voice-activated control.

The same car then becomes an enjoyable blast at the weekend, with paddle-shift gearchanges, active body control, adaptive steering and sport mode adding more driver involvement.

And of course, there’s that powerful and glorious V8 to listen to.

Trips to the fuel pump will be fairly frequent, as its 80-litre tank will be empty in less than 350 miles even with gentle cruising.

However, consumers with pockets deep enough for the SL500 won’t baulk significantly at a £100 fill-up.

Those customers can be certain of wanting to personalise their SL.

A £2,145 Sports package, which includes 19in alloys, painted callipers, black leather upholstery with silver stitching and steering wheel gearshift paddles, is popular and is currently being offered by Mercedes as a free upgrade.

At £440, the airscarf is another popular choice, given the UK’s all too brief annual flirtation with warm weather.

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