It's hard to imagine that, at an MSRP of over $95,000, the 550 is Mercedes "entry-level" roadster in the very high end SL-Class. But when money is no object, and state of the art automotive design and engineering are all that matter, one would be hard pressed to find a better way to spend his automotive dollar.
There's no missing the strong family resemblance looking at the front of the 550; the rear-slanting-dual headlight clusters, horizontal titanium bar grille and large, centered Mercedes logo leave no doubt as to its origins.
Vents located in the sculpted front fenders reach back into Mercedes' heritage for their inspiration as a modern day interpretation of that design cue that debuted on the classic European racing SL roadsters of the 1950's.
The retractable aluminum hardtop is the most significant design element of the 550 as it transforms the car from what appears to be a two-seater sport coupe to a top down roadster. Fully radiused wheel arches front and rear are filled with the 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels and low profile performance rated tires.
The 5.5 liter DOHC 32-valve V-8 produces 382 horse power and delivers the 391 foot pounds of torque to the rear wheels by way of 7-speed automatic transmission. Large vented and cross-drilled front and solid-disc rear brakes with ABS all around provide stopping power and are aided in this task by electronic traction and stability control.
Inside the 550 has the feeling of an luxurious jet cockpit as leather and rich wood trim abound. The passengers sit to each side of the prominent center console that contains the shift lever, climate controls and LCD screen for the onboard computer and navigation system.
Power seats, high-end audio and a full compliment of airbags round out interior appointments as well as an electronically deployed wind deflector behind the seats.
While the MSRP is $95,575 you could easily option up your personal SL550 to over $120,000.
The EPA estimates fuel mileage at 14 City and 22 MPG Highway.