The SL550 is a great-looking, highly impressive status symbol. But honestly, I can think of several much less expensive convertibles that are more fun to drive and I'd therefore personally rather own, primarily the Mazda Miata and the Porsche Boxster and secondarily the Ford Mustang, the Audi S5, and even the Porsche 911. Sure, the SL has some fabulous top-down assistants such as Airscarf, hot heated seats, and an integral wind deflector that Phil already mentioned and which shouldn't be ignored. I love convertibles in general, but I prefer them to be more nimble and light feeling -- and with windshield headers that are not so close to the driver that his view of the open sky above is significantly obstructed.
I tend to think of the SL as less of a sporty toy and more of a luxurious grand-touring automobile that happens to have a top that can be lowered. To that end, the SL has a compromised trunk thanks to its folding hard top, but it still offers considerable space behind the seats and features well-wrought straps to fasten down a suitcase or two (Mercedes offers fitted luggage for the SL's shelf, of course).
The SL550 steers and handles well and is plenty fast for a base-engined model, but I was disappointed by how much I could feel the chassis flex over rough roads. That optional panorama roof is definitely worth the extra $2000, though.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor