With captivating styling, a lavish technology-filled interior and invigorating performance, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL is nothing short of automotive nirvana. All models in the SL lineup offer impressive levels of luxury and performance.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL is a two-passenger, premium hardtop convertible. Four trim levels are offered: SL450 (known prior to the 2017 model year as the SL400), SL550, AMG SL63 and AMG SL65.
For 2017, the SL benefits from changes that include revised exterior styling. The SL450 and SL550 get increases in output and a new transmission. All models receive an upgraded power hardtop and additional standard features such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration.
The SL is offered with your choice of four twin-turbocharged engines. The SL450 is motivated by a 3.0-liter V6, and the SL550 features a 4.7-liter V8. The AMG SL63 is powered by a 5.5-liter V8, while the top-trim AMG SL65 arrives with a massive 6.0-liter V12 under the hood. The SL450 and SL550 are fitted with a nine-speed automatic transmission. AMG models use a seven-speed automatic.
Inspired by some of the greatest roadster designs of all time, the Mercedes-Benz SL is a nearly perfect example of automotive beauty and grace. The long hood, perfectly proportioned cabin and relatively short rear overhang are stereotypical to the performance roadster format. However, the SL has unique Mercedes-Benz cues, such as the iconic three-prong star emblems emblazoned throughout the two-seat hardtop convertible.
For 2017, the SL roadster sports new LED headlamps and a revised grille. The lower part of the body has also been redesigned to give the car an even wider appearance. The SL comes standard with 19-inch wheels, and their large diameter suits the roadster’s character.
The SL’s retractable hardtop is almost indiscernible from a fixed roof when in place. The roadster instantly transforms from a jaw-dropping grand tourer to a drop-top in a matter of seconds.
Base models come with a power-retractable hardtop, a panorama sunroof and LED exterior lighting. Available upgrades include a Magic Sky glass sunroof that allows you to alter the tint of its glass panels and an electronic trunk closer with hands-free access. You can choose wheels that are smaller than those that come with the base model by opting for 18-inch alloys. A staggered fitment is also available, and it features 19-inch wheels in front and 20-inch wheels in rear.
While the SL is undeniably a no-holds-barred sports car, Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with luxury, and the SL’s cabin is as premium as it gets. Every detail of the interior reflects a relentless pursuit of craftsmanship. This roadster’s cabin provides an environment that rivals the accommodations of most purpose-built luxury sedans.
Even the base SL450 features premium equipment. Its 16-way-adjustable power seats are heated and wrapped in sun-reflecting leather. They also feature a memory system that stores three seating positions. Dual-zone climate control, a power wind blocker, multicolor LED ambient lighting, a brake hold feature and a nifty illuminated entry system are also standard.
You can upgrade the look of the cabin with optional fine wood and carbon fiber trims and Nappa leather upholstery. The list of available features also includes active multicontour seats with massage, ventilated seats and an Airscarf feature that blows warm air around your neck, working with the heated seats to extend the convertible season in colder climates.
Cargo space is respectable, especially considering that the SL is a roadster. The trunk offers 8.5 cubic feet of space with the top lowered. With the top raised, cargo capacity swells to 13.5 cubic feet.
The SL roadster uses twin-turbocharged engines in all models. The base V6 creates 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The SL550 is powered by a 4.7-liter V8 that cranks out 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. These models go from 0-to-60 mph in 4.9 and 4.3 seconds, respectively.
Both the 3.0-liter V6 and 4.7-liter V8 are attached to a new nine-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles. The new transmission is more efficient and provides a better overall driving dynamic than the outgoing seven-speed transmission. Gear changes are almost imperceptible, which is a testimony to the gearbox’s craftsmanship and tuning.
The AMG SL63 is motivated by a 5.5-liter V8 that produces 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The top-trim AMG SL65 boasts an incredible 6.0-liter turbocharged V12 that produces 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. This incredible power is enough to propel the SL63 from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds, and the SL65 makes the sprint in 3.9 seconds. The torque is intoxicating. Rolling along at 30 mph and mashing the throttle to the floor takes your breath away, literally. The pressure on your chest from the lateral acceleration is tangible.
The SL is equipped with a multimode drive-program selector that allows you to dial in the roadster’s driving persona. The four modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. If you work through the four and can’t find anything to your liking, the SL also includes an Individual mode that will allow you to fine tune various parameters to your personal tastes.
The SL’s standard semi-active damping and four-wheel multilink suspension result in excellent handling and road-going smoothness. AMG models feature advanced active suspension systems that automatically lower and level the car based on speed to enhance aerodynamics and stability.
The V6 SL450 is rated at 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. The V8 SL550 achieves 17/25 city/highway. The AMG SL63 earns 16/25 mpg and the SL65 gets 13/22 mpg.
Base Mercedes-Benz SL models come with a nine-speaker 600 watt Harmon Kardon surround-sound audio system, a CD player, HD radio, MP3 capability, two USB ports, Bluetooth, voice recognition and Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system.
All models feature smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation with three years of free updates is also included. The optional in-car Wi-Fi requires a subscription service to use but is great for staying connected on the road.
The SL features a five-year subscription of Mercedes-Benz Mbrace Connect. This service provides in-depth interaction with the car through a smartphone. Downloading the Mbrace mobile app allows owners to remotely start the SL, use remote diagnostic tools, send destinations to the car’s GPS, request roadside assistance and much more.
Very few, if any, manufacturers lead the safety charge as vigorously as Mercedes-Benz. Starting off right with a resilient aluminum body structure, the SL features antilock brakes, side airbags, knee airbags and pre-engaging seat belts to help reduce injury in a collision.
The SL’s list of active safety features includes a driver-drowsiness monitor that evaluates up to 70 parameters of driver behavior to detect fatigue. There’s also forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, and this system activates the brakes if an imminent collision is detected.
Optional systems include a rearview camera, adaptive headlights, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, rear collision mitigation and blind spot monitoring.
The base 2017 SL450 starts at $87,875 (including destination charges). The V8 powered SL550 starts at $111,725.The AMG SL63 adds the 5.5-liter V8 and an array of performance and luxury features for $152,275. The pricing for AMG SL65 models like our review vehicle starts at $220,775 and includes AMG treatments under the hood, throughout the chassis and inside the cabin.
While not inexpensive, the SL represents good value in the segment. There are a few strong competitors, such as the 2017 Audi R8, Jaguar F-Type and Porsche 911, but the SL is exclusive for many reasons. The storied history of the model, as well as its incredible performance, beautiful styling and luxurious interior all make the SL a standout.
Obviously the top-trim SL65 (at almost a quarter of a million dollars) is not for everyone. However, when you push the performance of the SL65 and realize you can’t find the limits anywhere except on a high-speed race track, the reality sets in that despite its massaging seats and sedate exterior, this Mercedes-AMG-built roadster is a true supercar.
Most vehicles are built and designed for the many, but the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL was created for a few. Its dramatically styled exterior is both nostalgic and modern. Handling is impeccable, and all models provide breathtaking amounts of torque.
If you are in the market for an elite rear-wheel-drive super car disguised as a luxury roadster, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL deserves a look.