Used Mercedes-Benz SL 2002 - 2012 review

Category: Sports car

The Mercedes SL is one of the most desirable cars now at reasonable prices

Mercedes-Benz SL Open (02 - 12)
  • Mercedes-Benz SL Open (02 - 12)
  • Mercedes-Benz SL Open (02 - 12)
Used Mercedes-Benz SL 2002 - 2012 review
Star rating

What's the used Mercedes SL-Class sports like?

The Mercedes SL is one of the most desirable and pretty cars in the world. 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.


The Mercedes SL is one of the most desirable cars now at reasonable prices

  • A sleek coupe and a sexy roadster - all in one car
  • Not as nimble as some rivals

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.

Ownership cost

What used Mercedes SL-Class sports will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mercedes SL-Class sports?

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...

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes SL-Class sports should I buy?

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.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes SL-Class sports?