2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Seductive style and prestige, quick-folding retractable hardtop, face-flattening acceleration in AMG versions.
  • Complex interior controls, handling lacks a truly sporty feel.

With its gorgeous styling, iconic status and exotic-car performance, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL represents the world's quintessential luxury roadster.

Vehicle overview

There may be other Benzes, other luxury roadsters and higher-priced exotics, but when it comes to combining vaunted history, sporting presence and celebrity glamour, very few other cars can match the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. When the current-generation Mercedes SL debuted five years ago, it won us over with its high level of style, leading-edge technology and exceptional performance capabilities, and that impression hasn't changed in subsequent years.

Thanks to its Active Body Control suspension, for example, the SL is secure and confident at speed and handles with a surprising amount of finesse -- notable qualities in a car that is at heart a luxury cruiser. Yet this Benz also rides softly enough to avoid rattling the average luxury buyer, and is quiet and secure as any coupe with its automatic retractable hardtop in place. On the inside, the SL delivers all the usual high-end features along with the supple leather upholstery and rich wood inlays expected in a Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes has taken steps to keep the SL-Class fresh over the years, often by augmenting engine size and output. Today even the "entry-level" SL550 pumps out 382 horsepower from its V8 engine. Beyond it lie the SL55 AMG and SL600 with 510 hp each, while the king of the hill is the SL65 AMG with 604 Porsche-slaying horses, not to mention a massive 738 pound-feet of torque. Suffice it to say, speed is not an issue for any member of the Mercedes-Benz SL family.

While the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL is a high achiever in many areas, it isn't perfect. It's definitely heavy for a two-seat roadster, and this limits its agility on tighter roads. Driver enjoyment is similarly hampered by wooden-feeling steering and brakes. In addition, the cabin is marred by fussy, overly complicated controls for the audio and navigation systems.

As such, individuals wanting a luxury convertible with a more interactive driving experience might find the Porsche 911 Carrera/911 Turbo and the four-seat BMW 650i/M6 to be better choices. Alternately, the Jaguar XKR or Cadillac XLR-V could be appealing simply because they offer similar levels of style, yet cost significantly less. Still, the Mercedes SL represents the quintessential choice in this segment, and its classic mix of luxury, performance and style puts it among our all-time favorites.

2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class models

A two-seat luxury roadster, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class comes in four variants. In ascending order of price, they are the SL550, SL55 AMG, SL600 and SL65 AMG. The SL550 (the only one with a five-figure sticker) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, leather seating, wood trim, heated power seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Bose surround-sound audio system, satellite radio, the COMAND all-in-one control interface and a navigation system. The SL600 upgrades with napa leather, wood-and-leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob, a power trunk closer and the Keyless Go start system.

In keeping with their higher performance aspirations, the two AMG models, the SL55 and SL65, add 19-inch wheels, exterior styling tweaks, a sport suspension and upgraded brakes. Inside, Mercedes replaces the wood trim with carbon fiber and adds an AMG-exclusive steering wheel with shift paddles. Unlike the SL55, the SL65 has the power trunk and Keyless Go start system as standard.

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, hands-free communication, run-flat tires, a sunroof and adaptive/massaging seats are also available. The SL55 AMG is eligible for the AMG Performance Package, which provides Formula One-style compound brakes, special 19-inch wheels, firmer "Nürburgring" suspension calibrations, a limited-slip rear differential and the deletion of the 155-mph speed governor, thereby allowing the car to reach 186 mph.

2008 Highlights

Aside from a new 18-inch wheel design for the SL550, Mercedes' luxury roadster remains unchanged for 2008.

Performance & mpg

The base SL550 has a 5.5-liter V8 with 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque -- enough to sprint from zero to 60 in just over 5 seconds. The SL55 AMG has a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 with 510 hp and 531 lb-ft. The SL600 sports a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V12 with the same 510 hp, but its 612 lb-ft make acceleration feel even more forceful. Finally, the SL65 AMG has a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that makes an astounding 604 hp and 738 lb-ft and is good for blasting the car from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. All transmissions are automatics (seven speeds on the SL550, five on the others) and send all that massive power to the rear wheels only.


Every modern safety feature is standard on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL roadster line, including stability control, side airbags (with both head and torso protection), a driver's knee airbag and pop-up roll bars. Mercedes' Active Body Control suspension technology is standard on all models and minimizes body lean while cornering, enhancing both performance and safety.


In general, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadster offers a rewarding and refined experience behind the wheel. When pushing the SL hard, handling is impressive, thanks to the excellent grip and the Active Body Control that almost eliminates body roll. Ride quality is also refined and supple. On the other hand, a curb weight of more than 4,200 pounds keeps any of the SL roadsters from feeling truly agile, and the wooden-feeling steering and brakes curb driver involvement. Acceleration is simply eye-flattening in the SL65 AMG, but we think the lower-powered versions better match the SL's talents and personality. As a further bonus, the SL550 costs about $92,000 less than the 189-grand SL65, and is certainly fast enough in its own right.


A power-operated retractable hardtop is standard on all 2008 Mercedes SL-Class convertibles. It offers the insulation and security of a coupe when raised and the alfresco experience of a roadster when lowered. A choice of three wood trims (Walnut, Chestnut, Black Ash) are available in the SL550 and SL600, while AMG versions feature carbon-fiber accents instead. The dual-zone climate control system is easy to use, though the same cannot be said for the complex COMAND interface that houses the audio and navigation controls. Maximum cargo capacity is a decent 10.2 cubic feet with the top up, though only 7.3 with the top down.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.75 out of 5 stars
SL55 AMG 2dr Convertible (5.4L 8cyl S/C 5A)
Overall I would recommend this vehicle to all who have the ability to own one. This vehicle is beautiful, fun to drive, powerful, handles well and is a real nice overall sports car. The electric top makes this a real gem. I like the car but maintaining a full tank of gas is a challenge. I waited my entire life to afford such a vehicle and now that I own it I must say it was worth the wait!
4.75 out of 5 stars
As good as it gets
This is it,07/20/2010
SL550 2dr Convertible (5.5L 8cyl 7A)
While growing up heading into NYC, I would see the Sl 500's and told myself that some day I would own one. Went to get my wife an E 350, and this car was sitting along side it. Having MB handle the depreciation, it was still above my range, but what the heck. Yes, the Corvette and the BMW are faster, but what a way to get there. I don't need to feel every break in the pavement. The transmission is superb and gets out of the way. The engine is silent. The breaks keep it safe (the one thing I miss on my 335i). I don't know what people don't like about the Bose Stereo, and I am an audiophile. If you have the bucks, this is the car.
5 out of 5 stars
SL 600
Dan Newton,04/15/2015
SL600 2dr Convertible (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A)
I purchased my 2008 SL 600 new back in 2009; this was my first purchase of a performance luxury car. I just love everything about the car. The engine torque is amazing; when the twin turbocharger’s spool up the acceleration is scary fast. Cornering is flat and feels very secure. Interior noise is very low and luxurious. The overall build quality is second to none. I have owned the car for six years now and the only expense has been standard maintenance. The car did not have a single warranty repair during the warranty period or any repair required to date. I have owned the car for 8 years now and still no repairs, just standard maintenance. Slightly disappointing resale value, since only 110 units were sold in the US in 2008 you would think the car would hold resale value better.
4.75 out of 5 stars
What A Machine
Tom M,05/06/2008
SL55 AMG 2dr Convertible (5.4L 8cyl S/C 5A)
This MB SL55 AMG is one of the most powerful, exciting vehicles I've ever owned. The performance is unbelievably good. I've timed my own full-bore start and got to 60 in 4.5 seconds. Handling is easily better than both a BMW M6 and a Porsche 911 Turbo S.(I've road tested both) Obviously, the retractable hardtop is the biggest party piece of the SL and it works beautifully in about 22 seconds. The interior is very well done and the Mercedes trademark massaging seats works wonderfully. But after a long distance trip, you will feel it for the ride is very firm. Fuel economy is not as bad as expected for a 500 horsepower V8. Expect like 15 city and 19 highway. Bravo Mercedes-AMG.

More about the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Overview

The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is offered in the following submodels: SL-Class SL55 AMG, SL-Class SL65 AMG, SL-Class Convertible. Available styles include SL550 2dr Convertible (5.5L 8cyl 7A), SL55 AMG 2dr Convertible (5.4L 8cyl S/C 5A), SL65 AMG 2dr Convertible (6.0L 12cyl Turbo 5A), and SL600 2dr Convertible (5.5L 12cyl Turbo 5A). Pre-owned Mercedes-Benz SL-Class models are available with a 5.5 L-liter gas engine or a 5.4 L-liter gas engine or a 6.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 604 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 7-speed shiftable automatic, 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a unlimited yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class?

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Which used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Classes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

Can't find a used 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Classs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for sale - 2 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $12,831.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz for sale - 10 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $10,868.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for sale - 7 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $24,161.

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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz SL-Class lease specials