Mercedes-Benz SL review - sports car or boulevard cruiser?

Surprisingly good fun, particularly in AMG trim, the SL is a roadster of broad talents

Evo rating
from £73,810
  • Luxurious and relaxing but still fun to drive
  • Weight takes its toll on the brakes

evo Verdict

Original 300 SL aside, the Mercedes-Benz SL has never been an out-and-out sports car, but the latest version is as close as the model has got to that title in a generation. In AMG form particularly there’s plenty of entertainment to be had and thundering performance too, while the SL 400 and SL 500 are comfortable (and surprisingly frugal) ways of getting about in comfort and luxury.

Strong engines, pliant suspension and a stiff structure are SL highlights across the range, and while the styling is now past its best Mercedes has kept the range fresh with advanced technology and new turbocharged powerplants. You might enjoy the SL more than you expect.

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evo Tip

If you plan to use your AMG SL in the manner for which it was designed, we’d recommend specifying the optional carbon-ceramic brakes. The standard rotors certainly stop the car quickly enough, but the SL is a substantial beast and repeated stops can introduce confidence-sapping fade.

You shouldn’t be too disappointed if you opt for the non-AMG SLs though, as both SL 400 and SL 500 offer strong performance and, if not quite as sharp as the AMGs, fulfil the role of grand tourer with alacrity.

evo Comment

‘From mid-corner onwards your line can be adjusted with the throttle, with more throttle pushing the car into oversteer. Not heroic tyre-smoking oversteer, not even enough to require any perceptible opposite lock, but just the right amount to make you feel like you’re controlling the car with the rear axle. The SL63 displays how entertaining the inherent balance and predictability of a front-engined rear wheel drive car can be.’ Will Beaumont, staff writer, Mercedes-AMG SL 63

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