Full 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review
What's New for 2007
In addition to more powerful engines, slightly quicker steering and various styling tweaks (that include a revised grille, front airdam and taillights), the 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class lineup is graced with the introduction of a 50th Anniversary Edition SL550 to celebrate five decades of this classy roadster.
Debuting 50 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz SL roadster has long been the darling car of celebrities and millionaires. Timeless styling, a comfortable cockpit and confident performance are the traditional hallmarks of this premium two-seater. And with the most recent generation, one can add extremely fast to those attributes.
For 2007, the base (for lack of a better word) Mercedes-Benz SL is now called the SL550, with the new numbers indicating the installation of a new 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8. That's an impressive increase of 80 hp over last year's SL500, giving the SL550 a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds, according to Mercedes. Other changes for this year include a revised, more direct steering system, new wheels, thicker bars in the grille, a deeper front airdam, a clear-lens taillight insert and slight power increases for the SL55 AMG and SL600 AMG versions.
This generation of the SL-Class, which debuted four years ago, has always impressed us with its ability to function as both a sport- and luxury-themed convertible. A lot of credit goes to the car's active suspension system that helps keeps the car flat during aggressive cornering, without sacrificing ride quality during normal driving. The SL's handling is simply stunning, especially so when considering the car's considerable 2-ton mass. Another source of enjoyment is the SL's retractable hardtop, which provides the security and comfort of a coupe when raised and the thrill of open-air motoring when powered down under the rear deck lid.
All is not perfect, however, with the 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster. The audio and navigation systems operate through the fussy COMAND interface screen, and trunk space is reduced to just 7.3 cubic feet when the top is stowed. But considering all the engaging positive traits of the SL, we could easily live with those minor annoyances.
In the upper-crust segment of six-figure, two-seat luxury convertibles, there are a couple of other valid options, such as the Cadillac XLR, which also has a retractable hardtop but lacks the Benz's overall polish, and the handsome but unproven Jaguar XKR convertible. If you want to know how strongly we feel about a certain car, see if it made our list of "Editors' Most Wanted" vehicles. This is where our editors pick the cars they would choose to put in their own driveways. It should be no surprise that the SL-Class has made the list for four of the last five years. Regardless of which version you consider, rest assured the SL will provide world-class levels of performance, luxury and style.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class family of retractable-hardtop roadsters consists of four members: the SL550, SL600, SL55 AMG and SL65 AMG. The V8-powered SL550 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, leather seating, power seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, automatic dual-zone climate control and a high-powered audio system. The twin-turbo V12-powered SL600 adds napa leather seating, keyless entry/starting, a heated/wood-trimmed steering wheel, heated/ventilated/massaging seats and a power trunk closer. The AMG versions -- the supercharged V8-powered SL55 and twin-turbo V12-powered SL65 -- come with performance enhancements that include even more powerful engines, sport-tuned suspensions, recalibrated transmissions, upgraded brakes, 19-inch wheels and various styling tweaks (such as mesh lower grilles and carbon-fiber interior trim).
For the SL550 and SL600, one can order the optional AMG Sport Package. It adds 18-inch AMG wheels, high-performance tires and lower body sculpting. Park assist, adaptive cruise control and adaptive, massaging seats are available. The SL55 AMG is eligible for the AMG Performance Package, which provides Formula One-style compound brakes, 19-inch wheels, firmer "Nürburgring" suspension calibrations and the deletion of the 155-mph governor, a change that allows the car to hit its 186-mph top speed.
Powertrains and Performance
The SL550 has a 5.5-liter V8 (382 hp, 391 pound-feet of torque) while the SL600 sports a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V12 (510 hp and 612 lb-ft). The SL55 AMG has a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 (510 hp, 531 lb-ft) while the top dog, the SL65 AMG, has a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that makes astounding power (604 hp and 738 lb-ft.). All transmissions are automatics, and they send engine power to the rear wheels. The SL550 has a seven-speed automatic, while all the other trims have a five-speed. Across the board, performance is stunning, with 0-60-mph times ranging from 4.2 seconds (SL65) to 5.3 seconds (SL550).
Every modern safety feature is standard on the 2007 Mercedes-Benz SL line, including stability control, a pop-up roll bar, a driver's knee airbag and side curtain airbags (rare on a roadster). There is also active body roll control (known as ABC) that enhances both performance and safety by minimizing body sway while cornering.
Interior Design and Special Features
A power-operated retractable hardtop is standard on all 2007 Mercedes SL-Class convertibles, and it offers the integrity, insulation and security of a coupe when raised, along with the full al fresco experience of a roadster when powered down. Maximum cargo capacity with the top up is a respectable 10 cubic feet. A choice of three wood trims (Walnut, Chestnut, Black Ash), depending on upholstery color, are available in the SL550 and SL600, while the AMG versions feature carbon-fiber accents. The dual-zone climate control is easy to use, but unfortunately the same can't be said for the complex COMAND audio and navigation interface.
Apart from the electronically controlled brakes that feel a bit touchy at first, the current SL roadster offers the driver a rewarding experience behind the wheel that rarely grows tiring. Handling is exceptional when the SL is pushed hard, with almost no body roll and excellent grip. Performance of the muscular SL550 should be more than enough for anyone. But those who want a supercar need not leave the Benz showroom -- the rest of the SL lineup can keep pace with the world's top exotics.