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You don’t have to be Narcissus to take one look at the Mercedes SL500 flagship roadster and see a car that’s you. Sleek. Gorgeous. Powerful. Stop and stare for a while. Then slip inside and get comfortable with yourself. A more agile sibling to the magnificent CL500 coupe, the SL500 may be the best all-around two-seater on the planet. It packs a 302-horsepower, 5.0-liter, 24-valve aluminum V-8 with 339 ft.-lbs. of torque. That’s a lot of muscle for a 4,000-pound convertible, and, coupled with a 5-speed electronic transmission (which you can drive either as a full automatic or as a manual shift), the big engine easily moves the SL from zero to 60 in 6.1 seconds. But you’ll be enjoying it, not timing it. Loaded with about as much computer software as the average fighter jet, the SL features the best active suspension system I’ve ever experienced. It’s virtually impossible to be a bad driver in this car, as its interrelated systems kick in (almost imperceptibly) to manage pitch, body roll and directional stability regardless of the weather, the road surface, or your appetite for adventure. You can spearhead the SL into curves like a Porsche, and come out the other side like a Bentley. Get caught up in a crowd situation on the interstate? Just point the SL to some open pavement and take your leave. Fit, finish and creature comforts are outstanding, though Mercedes persists in shaking you down for the usual extras. On my test vehicle, these cost more than $4,400 — including $2,050 for the voice-activated phone system. That said, the wood and leather appearance package looked great, the ventilated seats with lumbar massage were terrific, and the Bose-sourced audio system was superb. For another $1,800, the tempered-glass Panorama Roof with sunshade — a glass “moonroof” insert to the retractable steel top — should also be considered a must-have. Though the SL’s long doors can make parking cumbersome in today’s downsized lots, its tight-turning radius makes in-town handling a dream. You can spin the SL in such a small circle that you may never need to back it up. And unlike other luxury roadsters I could name (Jaguar, Lexus), the SL doesn’t suffer from cramped leg and foot space for the driver. Trunk space is limited to 10 cubic feet, just enough for two carry-on bags, and the Mercedes navigation/audio control screen remains a testament to technology’s downside. But overall, the Mercedes SL500 offers a level of performance, sophistication and timeless styling that will seduce you every time you drive it. M.S.R.P.: $85,990 Price as tested: $94,165 Mileage: 15 city/22 highway Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles, with 24/7 roadside assistance

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