The entry-level SL 400’s V6 is smooth and broadly powerful right the way through the range, while the automatic gearbox masks any turbo lag; it’s our pick of the range, since it’s fast without being as thirsty as the higher tier engines. The SL 500 and 63 AMG are V8s – they sound fantastic and are a bit sharper to drive than the 400. We’d definitely avoid the V12 SL 65 as you get barely any extra performance for the vast additional cost.
Mercedes-Benz SL ride & handling
The SL has always been a fine luxury roadster with a mildly sporting bent, and this is still true. There are two modes to the standard adaptive dampers: Comfort provides a cosseting ride on scarred UK roads, and Sport is still at the more comfortable end of the sports car spectrum. Ask a lot of it and it’s agile enough, but while it’s not unhappy to be driven briskly, it’s most impressive when driven smoothly.
Mercedes-Benz SL refinement
Being a folding hard top, refinement with the roof up is excellent and befitting of the luxury long distance cruiser that the SL is. Roof down, even at high speed with the windows up, it’s not too blustery in the cabin. Gearshifts are sometimes perceptible, but for the most part the automatic gearboxes – especially the nine-speed units - are seamlessly smooth, befitting the character of the rest of the car.