My Take
SL65 AMGThere's only one reaction when you feel the thrust of the SL65 for the first time: confusion. It's the same confusion you felt when you first learned to balance on a bike, or when your desperate struggle to stay afloat turned into swimming. You'll either stick with it and continue the rush, or back off and not push your luck. It's an entirely new sensation your inner ear and body never felt before, a frightened invigoration the logical part of the brain is slow to sort out as good or bad. This triggers your cerebral cortex to take over and kick into fight or flight mode; on one hand, you have the nirvana of speed, and on the other, imminent death. Lean into the throttle more or yield to your blurring vision and lift? These sensations are few and far between in life, but always remembered.

Driving the big dog of Mercedes' AMG line is more about a state of mind rather than just raw speed though, which is what sets it apart from similarly priced sports cars or sedans. There are faster and more extravagant cars out there, but none that come in a holistically comparable package. The SL may not satisfy your needs for extreme canyon carving or chauffeured luxury, but it will do everything in between with the utmost competence, which is why this is the choice if you can only afford one supercar.

When you finally come to terms with your senses and the velocity-induced delirium subsides, the finer details of the SL surface. No other convertible feels as solid and robust in build and handling. In any situation, the silky smooth ride and feel will remind you it's a Mercedes-Benz. Driving becomes an exercise in self restraint, trying to stay off the gas long enough to appreciate everything else that your $180,000 bought. You want to share it with the world and retract the top at a stoplight. You'll turn heads, guaranteed. When you finally do get tired of all the toys, step on the gas a little harder, feel the tunnel vision close in, and let the cycle start all over. The SL65 is truly a chariot for the gods: practical, graceful, beautiful and when called upon by an insistent right foot, full of fury to smite the unworthy.

Lie and cheat your way into a test drive at your local dealer if you must, but don't go another day without the satisfaction of having 600 bhp at your disposal. And when you are really ready to bite the bullet, turn off ESP and see what kingdom comes.-Jay Chen

G55 AMG
In an era when sultry, sleek aerodynamics conspire to make cars look sexy and punch little bitty holes in the air, the G-Wagen stands alone. Actually, it goes the opposite way, sporting a profile built with all the grace of mutant Lego blocks. Stuffed with more engine than a Mac truck, the G-Wagen straddles an odd gap-is it a serious off-road vehicle or is it a sports car? Or is it something else altogether? We can't really decide; half the staff loved its unique personality while the other half treated it with all the contempt of a mosh-pitting rocker at the Queen Mother's coronation.

Despite being over-engined and under-suspended, driving the G55 is a unique experience. With a commanding view of the road, I likened the sensation to piloting an industrial earthmover, only much faster. The G55 rockets off the line with cartoon-like intensity, leaving the driver holding a steering wheel while the car itself flies down the road. It's powered by the same supercharged V8 found within the E55, capable of motivating the 5,600-pound beast to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. It's about as insane as naked beer-bong bungee jumping.

First unveiled 25 years ago, the Gelaendewagen was originally intended for military use and is currently in active duty the world over. Unlike many other SUVs featuring an auxiliary front axle drive, the G-Wagen was born to be a 4x4-its drivetrain is as strong in front as it is at the rear axle. In other words, it was intended to be a serious workhorse with dark overtones. Its colleagues include the first-generation Hummer, Unimog and Pinzgauer. Underneath yards of Napa leather, polished aluminum and advanced electronics sits a vehicle with good if not excellent capabilities. Compared to the new Hummer H2, the G55 is a superior car, both in build quality and utility... especially utility. The rear hatch is accessed by a sizable, swinging door and big enough to fit weeks worth of groceries. The generous rear seating area ensures comfortable passengers, or the seats can be folded down for even more space. The supercharged V8 engine brews up 476 hp of power and puts maximum torque of 516 lb-ft on tap at 2650 rpm. The G55 AMG thus outstrips the output of its naturally aspirated predecessor by more than 30%. If you need a tow vehicle, this is it.

Ultimately, there's something freakish about the G55. It is so hideously powerful you can find yourself exceeding the governing laws of physics very quickly. And with a car sporting the G55's dimensions, those laws are significantly different than a smaller, lower vehicle. The G55 tries to hide its inherent utilitarian nature with a candy coating (and gigantic set of huevos). I think this vehicle would be happier in the African Savannah, sporting one of Mercedes brilliant turbodiesel engines. As it was, its city-slicker suit landed us in deep shit, literally. I figured some pics of the G55 charging through the mud would be great and really illustrate what the car was all about. On its first pass, the G55 dug into the soft earth until it was resting on its belly. Placing the transmission into low, we tried to rock the car out; the big tires conspired against us until they stopped moving altogether. As the sun sank, we waited for a rescue team that never came, probably because we never called. We had contemplated using the On-Star emergency device, but it was not an emergency. "We've fallen in the mud with our $100,000 G-Wagen and can't get out." I could hear the dispatcher laughing already. Using the mats as a walkway, we trudged a few feet to dry land and waited for the meat wagon. An inglorious end to a gloriously baroque car.

The G55 is the epitome of conspicuous consumption, a vehicle we hate ourselves for liking. -Les Bidrawn

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