How does the Mercedes-AMG SL drive?
Shoppers can choose between two models when the Mercedes-AMG SL goes on sale this spring: the SL 55 or SL 63. Both come with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The SL 55 produces 469 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque while the SL 63 is good for 577 hp and 590 lb-ft.
Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions kept us from fully exploring the SL's performance potential, but we should have those impressions once we're able to perform the usual battery of Edmunds evaluations. In the few instances where we were able to drive with more confidence and aggression, the SL split the difference between the S-Class Cabriolet and AMG GT, with a bit more bias toward the GT.
Acceleration is immediate and inspiring, with a healthy V8 growl and plenty of tire grip even on wet pavement. Mercedes estimates the SL 55 will reach 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and the SL 63 in 3.5 seconds. That's not a significant difference on paper nor is it from behind the wheel.
In the curves, the SL feels solidly planted and very trustworthy, though it does feel rather heavy to be tossing it into tight hairpins. Then again, it's not as frantic as the smaller and lighter AMG GT, which seems appropriate for an AMG-branded SL. Driven conservatively, the SL is supremely easy to drive, and in the softest suspension setting, it's as comfortable as most other grand tourers. Selecting the Sport or Sport+ setting stiffens up the ride, but not so stiff that it becomes obvious or harsh.
At least on our foul weather drive, we didn't notice a big enough difference between the SL models to justify paying more for the SL 63 as the SL 55 feels just as potent. That may change if we get to drive them back-to-back in dry conditions, but our initial impressions point to the SL 63 more for bragging rights than anything else.
How comfortable is the SL?
The AMG SL is spacious enough for taller drivers and noticeably roomier than the AMG GT, but it's not as generous as the S-Class Cabriolet. The seats feature moderate side bolstering to keep you in place when cornering but aren't so aggressive that they constrict or require special contortions to get in. The shape and cushioning are excellent for long-distance drives and also offer a massage function should you want it. The rear seats are significantly smaller and are as accommodating as a straitjacket for adults. It's possible smaller children may fit back there, but we'd be more inclined to use it as a cargo shelf instead.
Ride quality is consistent with every other comparison we've made so far. It again splits the difference between luxurious and sporty, which is appropriate for an AMG SL. You'll hear the bumps and ruts in the pavement more than feel them, but it's not the glassy smooth ride you'd get from the S-Class Cabriolet. It's a good compromise between comfort and performance, allowing you to have fun but not get beaten up for it.
Even with its new fabric top, the SL is pleasantly quiet. Its tight fit ensures no wind leaks at highway speeds. And even in driving rain, raindrops tapping on the roof are barely noticeable. Road noise is also barely there, giving the guttural engine and exhaust noises a chance to inspire. In Sport modes, it gets louder and bolder with very subtle pops when you lift off the gas.