It's somewhat disingenuous to call the SL550 a competitor to Porsche's 911. It goes without saying that the 911 offers a raw, engaging experience for the driver, while the Benz luxuriously coddles its occupants while effortlessly whisking them away at high speeds. The 911 may be far more fun on the road course, but for long topless roadtrips, there's almost no besting the SL.
That's not saying the SL isn't any fun -- despite its size and heft, the Benz more than holds its own in a corner, thanks to the immense grip offered by the wide 285/30ZR19 tires out back. Punch the button for Mercedes' active body control, and the air suspension does an impressive job of negating body roll. Steering is rather quick and precise, although its weight errs on the side of lightness.
This car may be aging (and Mercedes-Benz is readying its successor), but I can find few substantial faults. If anything, I hanker for a little more power, but those who share my thirst can always spring for the SL600, or the AMG-tuned SL63 and SL65.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer