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

  • BorkFactor 06 Feb 2013

    Good video, I have to say I really do like both of these cars. I am amazed at how far the SL63 AMG has come on since the last version.

    Can't say I would go for the M6 (If I had the money...) over the M5 though.

  • Contigo 06 Feb 2013

    M6 out of the two for me. The SL is so expensive really but still a great machine.

    I agree with Chris there is something special about the M6 over the M5 but it's all about practicality at the end of the day.

  • Mastodon2 06 Feb 2013

    Excellent video, I'd take the Mercedes. The most powerful super-GT car I've been in was an E39 M5 and even that felt astonishingly powerful after tootling in silence and comfort for a little while. Having never been in one of these new breed of sports GTs with their huge bhp and torque figures, I can't really comprehend what it must be like to have that kind of power available in a car like that.

  • cheddar 06 Feb 2013

    Doesn't that SL cost £50,000 more to buy than the M6?

    Test seems contrived, they're not true rivals.

  • carinaman 06 Feb 2013

    I liked the Fleetwood Mac reference, a bit of link to Top Gear.

    Does the SL have the same transmission as the SLS?

    Is that Perranporth?

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