The Mercedes-Benz SL will be restyled soon, but before an extensive facelift fixes its aesthetic issues, the company is launching this Mille Miglia 417 special edition, which pays homage to a legend. It is a modern-day interpretation of the 300SL that was driven at the 1955 Mille Miglia by the American John Fitch and his co-driver Kurt Gessl to an incredible fifth place overall. A series-production car, that Mercedes finished well ahead of many race cars.
It’s impossible to ignore this special version of today’s SL. Offered only in matte black, it comes exclusively with black wheels measuring 19 inches up front and 20 inches at the back. Inside and out, the Mille Miglia 417 is littered with red accents. It’s not discreet, but it is well executed.
Open-top motoring is part of the SL’s appeal, and we took advantage of every opportunity to lower its retractable hardtop. But dropping the top requires planning: Whereas some competitors’ power tops can be operated while moving at speeds up to 30 mph, this one works only at creeping speeds or when at a standstill.
Top up or down, the SL550 Mille Miglia 417 looks aggressive, and it is fast: 60 mph comes up in just over four seconds, according to Mercedes, and it can reach a governed 155 mph. The soundtrack, however, could be more exciting. When you take your foot off the throttle, the popping in the exhaust doesn’t exactly sound as fiery as in an AMG—think of tin cans banging together, and you get an idea. And while the throttle mapping is overly aggressive, the seven-speed automatic in this SL550 feels lazy by comparison.
We loathed the driver-assistance systems. In spirited driving and lane-hopping in the city, the SL repeatedly feared it was about to crash—and automatically applied full braking. This, naturally, made our driver look like a fool and gave those behind us the impression that we deliberately brake-checked them. Our test car managed only an indicated 14 mpg in our care, although our time with this Benz, which took place in Germany, included a lot of hard driving and triple-digit speeds. Drivers in the U.S. will surely fare much better.
On the open road, we were impressed by the SL’s directional stability and steering precision. And despite its huge wheels, this SL possesses sufficiently comfortable ride quality. Right at the limit, however, the transition between under- and oversteer is a bit more dramatic than one might hope from a car that’s otherwise quite composed. The SL63 AMG is more convincing when it comes to hard driving.
Indeed, if we were in the market for an SL, we’d try hard to come up with the extra $30K or so that separate this special edition from the more powerful and altogether better SL63 AMG (or go all-out for an AMG GT). But like all special editions, the Mille Miglia 417 has its distinct appeal. Down the road, it might well become a collector’s item, although it likely won’t ever be as sought after as the car from which it draws inspiration.
Via: Car and Driver