The Mercedes SL has always been a brilliant car to cruise to the south of France in, a very well made GT. However, it lacked that willingness to behave like a taught sports machine when you wanted hit those complex mountain roads. It has always been a very capable car but for those looking for something more agile, the competition was very good at ticking that box. A new SL steps up to the plate for 2013 and not just some tweaked mid-life refresh either… This is the all-new Mercedes-Benz SL.
Or to be more specific, our test car is the SL63 AMG variant and to those who recognise the cars last three letters we understand why you have just leaned in a little closer. For the readers who don’t let me be very blunt about what this car actually is. The new Mercedes SL weighs 120KG less than the outgoing model, thanks to an aluminium body shell, and is fitted with a 5.5 litre V8 twin-turbocharged engine. This luxurious two seater convertible is then handed to the Germans performance devision, AMG. What they do to this car next is borderline insane. Increasing the boost from the turbos, putting components on a diet and giving onboard systems some extra “go juice” results in a machine that produces 557BHP and 663lb-ft of torque. Those numbers translate into the SL63 AMG achieving a 0-62MPH time of just 4.2 seconds and equipped with our cars performance pack, it won’t stop until it reaches a top speed of 186MPH. Hopefully now we are all reading from the same page when it comes to AMG. Think of them as Mercedes-Benz’ mad scientists.
This SL isn’t exactly what you would call a pretty car in terms of exterior design. From the front its blunt shape does give it presence but the rest of the car doesn’t go out of its way to reveal the potential performance that lay beneath its aluminium skin. The cockpit is a fantastic blend of Mercedes comfort and small sporting details. The seats for example are heavily bolstered to hold you in place but also very padded maintaing high levels of comfort. The console is clearly laid out with every button being stereotypically German in its logical positioning. The high quality black leather upholstery and aluminium detailing of the cabin give the interior a very executive feel and almost makes you completely oblivious to the fact that you are sat in an atomic weapon.
Fire the car up and you are very quickly reminded that this isn’t any ordinary Mercedes-Benz. At low speeds the cars 7 speed gearbox does a good job of selecting gears by itself and manages the transitions seamlessly. The steering is light and with the roof up it is just like driving a coupe. The SL63 manages refinement even better than the car it replaces incorporating new tech such as wiper blades that also clean the windscreen with water as they go. No more getting splashed by the washer jets whilst the roof is down! So, we have established that the new car fills the gap of comfortable convertible very well, but what happens if we take it out of the old cars comfort zone? What happens when you give it a firm prod in the ribs?
Putting your foot to the floor sets free both of those turbos and after just a minuscule delay they unleash every single one of those horse powers in a fashion last recorded as a major event in the bible. You are sucked back into you seat like someone just attached a giant Dyson to your arse. Before you know it you are doing 70, 80, 90 before slamming on the cars astonishingly good carbon ceramic brakes. Plunging into a corner it is immediately possible to tell that this SL is lightyears ahead of the old car in the handling department. It transfers its weight so effortlessly and the responsiveness of its electromechanical steering is sublime, though the trade off is that it lacks feeling. There is no getting away from the fact that this is a big car, but it will merrily dance to what ever jig you choose as it will match your driving capabilities step for step. With ESP off oversteer lunacy arrives in abundance. Just looking at the throttle is enough to kick the back end out, but the beauty of it is that it is just so very manageable due to its wide tyres. Orchestral V8 roar in toe, you can’t help but smile.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 is a very complete machine in that it will waft up and down whatever coast you choose all day long, yet when you fancy being exuberant that car now has more than just a powerful engine to do the job. It is a quietly styled monster that has some excellent handling virtues.