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Mercedes-Benz SL

The independent definitive Mercedes SL video review
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    S EXPRESSED (some text hidden)

    By Car & Driving

    The Mercedes SL has long been the definitive luxury sportscar. So can this improved sixth generation version deliver that concept afresh for the modern era? The experts at Car & Driving check it out.

    Ten Second Reviewword count: 82

    Luxury sportscar buyers traditionally sold on the charms of a Mercedes SL will certainly be sold on this significantly revised sixth generation version, now improved with more powerful engines, a 9-speed auto gearbox, a 'Dynamic Select' drive dynamics system and Active Body Control. They'll like the lithe proportions and smarter styling - and the luxurious technology. But there's so much more to this car than that. It is, in every respect, a landmark machine for its maker. As every SL should be.

    Backgroundword count: 212

    There aren't many truly iconic cars in the modern motor industry - but this is one of them: the Mercedes SL. The fundamental thinking behind standard setters of this sort doesn't tend to alter very much, but here it's different. Over six generations spanning as many decades, everything has changed about this car - yet in many ways, nothing is different. For Three-Pointed Star buyers, it's still the ultimate expression of sporting opulence and remains perhaps the definitive face of this legendary luxury brand. Yet one that over more than sixty years has changed from supercar to sports roadster and from there through boulevard cruiser to autobahn bruiser. A design, in other words, that through its lifetime, has managed at different times and in different forms to define everything a sportscar should be. Here, we have the improved sixth generation version, a car that, like the 1952 original, properly lives up to its name. 'SL', after all, stands for 'Sport Leicht' and this car, like that one, is made almost entirely from lightweight aluminium. Only this way, Stuttgart seems to think, can a modern luxury sportscar makes sense in the modern era and meet the contradictory demands of smarter speed and frugal fuel returns. Are they right? We're going to find out.

    Driving Experienceword count: 276

    A touch upon the silver starter button reveals a muted muffled roar from beneath the enormous bonnet that stretches out before you, tonally tuned by the size of the engine you've specified. Almost all are more powerful now. Perhaps the 367bhp 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 of the entry-level SL400. Or the 455bhp of the 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 SL500. There are AMG options beyond this to try and snare the supercar set and act as stepping stones to the awesome SLS gullwing and roadster models: namely the 5.5-litre V8 of the SL63 AMG which can put out as much as 585bhp. Or if you really must, the 6.0-litre V12 of the SL65 AMG which, with 630bhp, is arguably the fastest thing Mercedes makes. The SL400 and SL500 models get a new 9G-TRONIC 9-speed auto gearbox but the AMG variants stay with a sharper AMG SPEEDSHIFT 7-speed set-up. Across the range, SL drivers benefit from 'Dynamic Select' adjustable damping, a set-up you can tweak via 'Eco', 'Comfort', 'Sport', 'Sport Plus' and 'Individual' modes to suit the mood you're in and the road you're on. Another option is 'Active Body Control' with a curve tilting function. This reduces body movement through the bends in a way that's almost eerie. These changes do much to make the SL a more involving driver's proposition. Dynamically, this car has always sat rather uneasily somewhere between a Porsche 911 Cabriolet and a BMW 6 Series, not as sharp as the 911, not as luxurious as the Six. With this improved sixth generation SL, the difference is fundamental. In this, we've a car arguably able to offer much of the best of both worlds.

    To see the full road test text contact us on 0330 0020 227

    Pictures (high res disabled)

    Statistics (subset of data only)

    Min

    Max

    Combined mpg:

    24.4

    28.5

    CO2 (g/km):

    231

    279

    Extra urban mpg:

    33.6

    37.2

    Insurance group:

    50

    Price:

    110785

    168285

    Urban mpg:

    16.6

    20.3

    Weight (kg):

    1845

    1950

    Scoring (subset of scores)

    Category: Convertibles

    Performance
    80%
    Handling
    80%
    Comfort
    80%
    Space
    70%
    Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

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