1998 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review
Pros & Cons
- Fast, good looking and oozing with style.
- Incorrigible gas hog. Steep price tag.
Edmunds' Expert Review
For years, the classic roadster to own was the Mercedes 450SL. From 1973 to 1989, Mercedes peddled so many of these convertibles to the rich and famous that they became as ubiquitous as cocaine vials at high-society social events. Then, Mercedes revamped its classic, upping the technological ante by light years over the old car. The redone SL has been available in three styles since then; 320-, 500- and 600- Series droptops. This year sees the departure of the SL320 as Mercedes' trims the fat from its super car lineup.
The SL600 is a whompin' V12 two-door roadster. The SL isn't merely a CL600 coupe with no roof. It is lighter and more nimble. The bloodline it shares with the gargantuan CL-Class is the 6.0-liter V12 that makes 389 horsepower and moves the car with authority. Stuffed into the SL, the V12 is a better performer and costs less than its big brother coupe, but at a stupendous $125,000, that's kind of a moot point.
The ... ahem, lowly SL500 is the more reasonably priced and more popular Mercedes roadster. Prices for the SL500 have fallen dramatically for the second year in a row; much more reasonablly priced in 1998 at just under $80,000. So, do you get less car for your smaller payment? No. The SL500 has gained equipment since then.
We don't think you should go for the SL600. The SL500 is just as good, and better in some respects, than its more muscular brother. And with your savings you could get a Jeep Grand Cherokee for the kids to take to Keg-A-Beer University in the fall. If it comes to that, however, even the SL500 doesn't offer particularly good value when compared to the all-new SLK, which features a retractable hardtop and outstanding performance at half the price.