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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For A sleek coupe and a sexy roadster - all in one car

Against Not as nimble as some rivals

Verdict One of the most desirable cars now at reasonable prices

Go for… SL55 AMG

Avoid… SL350

Mercedes-Benz SL Open
  • 1. When looking at an SL, check out your local Mercedes dealer to make sure their customer service matches your expectations
  • 2. Check the folding roof works smoothly and quickly, as the electric motors can seize
  • 3. The alloys on AMG models are prone to kerb damage, and very expensive to repair or replace
  • 4. Every engine is great, but the powerful SL55 AMG is the greatest
  • 5. The cabin is a great place to be, whether you've got the roof up or down
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Mercedes-Benz SL Open full review with expert trade views

Mercedes refined its folding metal roof for the SL and created one of the most desirable and pretty cars in the word at a stroke. Roof up, it’s a handsome two-seater coupe. Pop the electric roof down and you can bask in sunshine and admiring looks.

There’s almost no shimmy or shake from the body when the roof is dropped, even on bumpy roads, and the optional active body control eliminates body roll in corners without adversely affecting the ride quality.

There’s a 3.7-litre V6 as the entry point, but most buyers choose the V8 SL500. For more pace the SL55 AMG has also proved a huge hit, while the SL65 AMG and SL600 have identical performance delivered in very different ways - the SL600 is all discreet swiftness, while the SL65 is almost insanely, in-your-face rapid.

Trade view

John Owen

Eclipsed by cheaper and significantly better-looking SLK; 350 best option

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The SL55 AMG is easily the best SL. It has much the same stylish looks as the standard SL, but with a hint more menace thanks to minor body tweaks and bigger alloy wheels. It also has a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 pumping out 500bhp to push it firmly into the supercar league for performance. Like the SL600, it cracks 0-62mph in 4.6sec and doesn’t let up until a limited top speed of 155mph.

The SL500 is a close runner-up and is not that much slower than the SL55 AMG. However, it’s a little more refined and rides the bumps a fraction more smoothly, as well as being cheaper to buy and run. The V6-engined SL350 is cheaper again, but will leave you feeling short-changed on performance, and wondering about what you're missing.

Trade view

James Ruppert

SL350 is the easiest to retail, although AMG with V8s at right price

James Ruppert
Used car guru

No SL will be cheap to run. Insurance for the SL350 may be the least costly for the range, but it’s still in group 20, and the AMG models are even more expensive because of their monumental performance.

Most SL buyers are likely to stick with Mercedes dealers for servicing, which will not be cheap as they are at the very top end of the scale for labour rate charges and parts prices are eye-watering.

At least the SL has variable service intervals, so you should be able to keep servicing to around every 12,000 miles unless you drive the car very hard.

Fuel economy in the low 20s for the SL500 is acceptable, while the SL350 returns around 24mpg. The AMG and SL600 models all struggle to get into the high teens and this will plummet if you make use of the performance. And you will...

Trade view

John Owen

Eclipsed by cheaper and significantly better-looking SLK; 350 best option

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

One of the key things to look for when buying an SL is not the car itself, but your local Mercedes dealer. You’re more than likely to use them for servicing, so make sure their customer service matches your expectations.

The SL is put together with care and attention, and it's a very reliable and easy car to live with. Nevertheless, check the folding roof works smoothly and quickly as the electric motors can seize if it’s not used for long periods, such as over winter.

And, if you're looking for an AMG model, have a good look at the alloys - they're prone to kerb damage, and, whether you repair or replace them, it'll be very pricey.

Trade view

James Ruppert

SL350 is the easiest to retail, although AMG with V8s at right price

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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