The name Mercedes- Benz always stood for luxurious automobiles and within the brand’s own pecking order, the letters “SL” tend to crown most price lists.
Although slightly removed from the SL abbreviation (Sporty and Light), there are few cars on the market with an illustrious heritage like the Mercedes SL (see below).
For those wanting even more – especially in terms of power – the in-house tuning division AMGIS here to help.
The SL 400 Biturbo V6 or SL 500 Biturbo V8 are sold with AMG looks as standard but if their power outputs were somehow not enough, there are two full- on MercedesAmgmodels on offer.
Topping the charts is the monstrous SL 65 with over 600 horsepower from its Biturbo V12 engine; and a hefty price tag which almost encompasses an SL 400 AND SL 500. The silver SL 63 I just had on test for a week seems more civilised by comparison and costs a “mere” two point five million bucks (April 2017).
Let me assure you that it is far from civilised though; that became abundantly clear within the first few meters with this 5.5-litre Bi-turbo V8.
430kw or 585hp are hard to disguise or keep quiet, even if Mercedes and AMG have done a sterling job of keeping the SL 63’s looks relatively discreet yet still purposeful within their brand design.
This SL 63’s freshly-updated R231 basis is a pure twoseater ( with small storage binnacles behind the seats) and the magic of a retractable roof in metal and glass; or optional dimmable glass.
Heated seats provide relief for topless winter excursions while additional extras turn them into fully- climatised furniture. Compared to newer Merc products, the SL dashboard features a comparatively small built- in infotainment screen as opposed to the bigger, free-standing devices in A- or C-class.
The gigantic twin monitors (with digital instruments) of E- and S- Class will surely make their way to the SL with the new model in a few years.
Other than that, I had no critiques inside the stylish roadster. Its AMG seats are superbly comfortable and supportive with ( optional) active side bolsters.
Subtle AMG badges around the cabin join up with the embossed logo on the stubby gear selector to remind you that this is something rather special.
If you need a final reminder, just press the engine start button. The 63’s 5,461cc V8 wakes up with a short bark and soon settles into a dogfrightening low rumble. Except when it’s cold, then it keeps roaring away merrily for half a minute or until your neighbours know that you’re taking the AMGTO work.
Power goes to the SL’S rear wheels via a 7-speed MCT (dual clutch) AMG automatic gearbox which begs caution at parking speeds because it feels unresponsive and jerky.
Like any other DCT, really.
Once on the move, this ‘box is a real marvel of modern transmissions and perfectly ties into the car’s multiple drive modes.
The default “Comfort” setting underlines the SL’S touring abilities, while “Sport” and “Sport Plus” progressively agitate the SL63'S V8 engine, gearbox and air suspension.
Furthermore, there is a hardcore “Race” mode and an “Individual” setting which lets the driver choose the best combination of those aforementioned options. You may paw your own way through the cogs with shift paddles and a Manual mode but – especially at full throttle – the gearbox does a good job itself.
Except perhaps in the “Race Start” mode (a type of launch control) which generated too much wheel spin and hence, slower acceleration times during our multiple runs for performance tests.
Mercedes claims 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds and our best was a decent 4.05 ( without Race Start) while 400m came up in just 11.79 seconds at 204.43km/h.
In plain English that means it’s one of the fastest topless cars money can buy. So fast, that first gear is restricted and never delivers full power.
If you’re lucky, second gear will unleash full potential briefly (amidst a squirming rear end) before third gear engages and you REALLY start accelerating. The SL 63 AMG is brutally fast. Although it’s blessed with a stupendously broad power band and hardly has any turbo lag, its mid-range punch is of the unbelievable kind.
Plant your right foot between 3,000 and 4,500rpm to get neck-snapping response and almighty acceleration. Kickdown at 120km/h and 160 arrives just 2.8 seconds later.
All the while you will be subjected to the Bi-turbo V8’s thunder soundtrack... which goes from a deep grumbling murmur at lower speeds to loud machine-gun fire at full tilt.
The beauty of this car is that you can switch to Comfort mode and cruise in peace and quiet. Every tester highly recommends the optional B&wsound system for this.
The Vario Roof only operates at walking pace but it’s now got a fully automated boot protector. Roof up you get 381L of space; with the origami roof stowed about 240L.
The petrol consumption is disastrous in town or when you are gunning it ( I saw 29L/ 100km once) but it’s easy to achieve 12L/100km on a steady open-road cruise.
The brakes are excellent, its LED headlights even more so, rear visibility is superb with the roof down and it even has a feature to lift its nose over speed bumps.
Does that justify this SL’S 2.5 million dollar asking price?
I certainly think so, not just for that mind-blowing power but just for the accomplished and exotic SL platform.
Plus - you don’t see one every day...
For those on a tighter budget, or who just want to cruise in style, the lesser 400 or 500 models should also do the job perfectly.
ThunderousAudi's sounds and wondrous power - this is the new SL63 AMG.