Long America's most popular six-figure convertible, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has counted many doctors among its owners.
If we're lucky, one or two eccentric psychiatrists will analyze the new SL63 AMG version, if only to plumb the subconscious of a luxury car so profligate and muscled-up as to seem overcompensating.
This makeover of the SL550 by the company's AMG division adds $40,300 to its donor car's base price of $106,405 and raises horsepower to 530, from 429. You pay $400 for each additional pony.
Then AMG slathers on more: reworked front and rear fascias, side skirts, AMG steering wheel and seats, the MCT 7-speed paddle-shift transmission, stronger brakes and a stiffer suspension.
If that's not enough, the optional $9,000 Performance Pack, featured on my test car, kicks the horsepower up more, to 557. The torque figure reads like a misprint: 664 pound-feet. That's more grunt than a Dodge Viper, a Corvette ZR-1 or Mercedes's own $200,000 supercar, the SLS AMG.
In its loopy way, however, the SLS AMG makes sense: it draws crowds like a Lamborghini, drives like a streamlined dragon and assures owners that it belongs among exotically priced cars.
But all of the ceramic carbon brakes ($12,625), Bang & Olufsen sound ($6,400) and carbon-fiber body parts ($3,750) in the world can't make the SL a supercar, though the test car's $189,350 price would suggest otherwise.
Oh, it's fast, all right: less than four seconds to 60 miles per hour. Luxurious, too, including a lovely gray, black and maroon interior that mimics the flag of Richistan.
The SL also seems the most luxuriously isolated convertible this side of a Bentley Continental GTC. Like the heavier Bentley, the Mercedes specializes in shredding the physics textbook, using its suspension's active body control to dominate the road, rather than become one with it.
Compared with the visceral SLS, that digital isolation -- a nagging sense that the SL63 is patronizing its driver -- is the part I don't like. The AMG can deliver its awesome power grudgingly, seemingly unconvinced of its traction or the driver's abilities.
Aside from supporting the carbon-fiber industry, I suspect there's one point to the SL63: to one-up drivers of the lowly 429-horse SL550, wagging the AMG badge in their faces. As a psychiatrist might say, if that's a reason to choose this overweening SL over the well-adjusted SLS or the standard-issue SL550, you should get your head examined.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.