Chris Harris video: SL63 vs M6


It seems both a long time ago, and somehow not that long ago Mercedes announced a car called the SL55 AMG. It was 2001. An obvious addition to the SL range and nothing too radical in terms of styling the 55 nevertheless permanently altered the fast GT market. Here was a car that could do anything: cruise for days or harry a 996 Turbo – roof up or down.

M6 looks better but is crude beneath the skin
M6 looks better but is crude beneath the skin
It also looked perfect for the role – subtle but threatening, which is why the first time you see the new SL63 it is hard not to wince with disappointment. Everything seems to have changed for the worse over the R230 – the overhangs, the styling, the ride height. I have never judged cars by the way they look, but even I have to admit that, next to the SL, a BMW M6 appears to be the work of a design genius.

The great shame here is that the respective covers couldn’t be more misleading. Underneath the SL’s unconvincing coachwork lies an aluminium masterpiece: a chassis so advanced in terms of construction, weight-saving and rigidity that it makes the M6’s steel frame appear as modern as Paddington Station.

One for all you Photoshoppers out there...
One for all you Photoshoppers out there...
The fast car market has changed beyond recognition since 2001, even Jaguar has a 500hp V8 these days, so grunt alone isn’t enough and you can now get a folding hardtop on a Ferrari. Where the R230 defined a price-point, both of these cars appear to suffer from the perennial GT issues of being neither as good to drive as a 911 Turbo, or as comfortable as larger tackle like the Bentley Continental GT. The truth, as the video shows, is rather different.

Can BMW really charge £20K more for an M6 than it does an M5? Do the SL’s driving characteristics overcome the unfortunate visage? What does 663lb ft and summer tyres mean on a slushy moorland road? Is Garlick going to sell that dreadful little Mazda?

Most of those questions will be answered here.

Enjoy the vid.

 

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Comments (68) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sollita 12 Feb 2013

    Off the point, but if I had £140k to spend on a 2 door, I'd buy a year old McLaren MP14.........

    Better ride comfort than either the BMW or Merc on std settings (I am guessing of course, but having been in a McLaren the ride comfort was amazing) and a totally different class of performance car.

  • 911F 11 Feb 2013

    I've driven the new shape SL500 - 435BHP and 60 in 4.5 - that felt amazingly fast, the SL63 must be on another planet.

    Agree though - they are not direct rivals, Unless it was an M6 Drop top

  • sealtt 08 Feb 2013

    That photo of the SL63 on the snowy road is fantastic, should be your photo of the week.

    I like Chris' reviews, he is very good. SL63 is an awesome car, I went to try one out recently ... but at £130k ... come-on!

  • HighwayStar 08 Feb 2013

    gumsie said:
    gdelargy said:
    Bruno Sacco called it " horizontal affinity". It makes sense when you think about it; these manufacturers want you to trade up to bigger models through the years ~ start in a 3-series, end up in a 6 or 7 with a higher profit margin. So they want to offer you something that looks vaguely like the car you already bought (and therefore like).
    You said it right there. Vaguely like, These days it seems to be exactly like.
    It's been like that from the moment BMW launch the 1 series and Merc the A Class. The chance of a taste of prestige and The Badges for a tad more than a Mondeo and people went for it. Then as hopefully you get more successful in life you stay with the brand and move up the range and you go. If they were drug dealers they'd be giving them away free to get you hooked wink

  • gumsie 08 Feb 2013

    gdelargy said:
    Bruno Sacco called it " horizontal affinity". It makes sense when you think about it; these manufacturers want you to trade up to bigger models through the years ~ start in a 3-series, end up in a 6 or 7 with a higher profit margin. So they want to offer you something that looks vaguely like the car you already bought (and therefore like).
    You said it right there. Vaguely like, These days it seems to be exactly like.

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