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Auto blogTue, 19 Feb 2013
It turns out that Mercedes-Benz North America has legitimate claim to being the top selling luxury nameplate in the US in 2012.
While sources such as Autodata had put BMW in the top spot, registration data from R.L. Polk shows that Mercedes customers registering new vehicles topped the Bavarian automaker in the most recent calendar year. Polk says Benz posted 274,123 registrations, compared with BMW's 268,498.
In terms of sales posted, BMW had bested Benz 281,460 to 274,134. But sales are recorded somewhat inconsistently from automaker to automaker. Some book the sales as soon as they are shipped from factory to dealer. There is perennial gamesmanship between the two German rivals, and the sales numbers suggest that BMW pushed out some extra sheetmetal to dealers in the last four weeks of the year.
If we're being completely honest, we haven't exactly been in love with the aesthetics of the sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. It's mostly a front-end issue, with its glowering eagle-eye headlamps and upright, dinner-plate-sized Three-Pointed Star coming across to us as overwrought. That's particularly troublesome for a roadster whose history has of the most elegant designs of all time in its back catalog. Somehow, the new R231 generation's brash visuals seem more at home on this Brabus 800 Roadster to us.
That's probably because the high-dollar German tuner has turned up the wick on the SL's visuals even further, with carbon fiber bodywork, a more aggressive aero kit, matte hood scoop and complex two-finish wheels. It's all-the-way committed to its brashness, in other words - and justifiably so. Anything with 800 horsepower and 1,047 pound-feet of torque has earned the right to look however it wants, right?
Brabus started with the SL65 and its not-exactly-underpowered 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12, and went to town, fitting their own turbocharger and intercooler system, along with a less-restrictive exhaust system with driver-selectable sound levels and new engine electronics. The result is a 3.7-second 0-62 mph time, an electronically limited top whack of 217 mph... and one seriously compromised toupée.
To the concern of nobody in particular, Mercedes-Benz will not be re-upping its Maybach line of ultra-luxury limousines. No, instead the German automaker will be stretching its already roomy S-Class, to make this upcoming 600 Pullman version of the decked-out beast.
The car in our new gallery of spy shots is sporting beefy B-pillars and a massive set of rear doors that should allow perfectly graceful ingress and egress from what is likely to be a palatial rear space. (In one photo we can even see a long-wheelbase S-Class in line with the new Pullman, handily exhibiting the size of the new variant.) The exterior modifications are otherwise obscured, though we can guess at revised front and rear fascia and lighting elements, based on both end being heavily taped for these test runs.
It's a good bet that the Pullman will make use of M-B's twin-turbocharged V12 engine, though sources indicate that a hybrid version might eventually be in the offing, as well.