Eleven years have passed since the last new SL, and the 2006 SL 63 AMG started a trend of return after a lengthy absence. Not one of the original SLs have been made for more than 20 years. Yet more than a third of all automobiles sold in the U.S. are SLs, and Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 500,000 SLs since the car’s 1982 launch.
The new generation of the SL 63 AMG is the SL63 AMG, SLC 63 AMG and SL63 AMG Roadster. It’s the seventh generation of the SL and the first with a new design. Mercedes designers went back to the vintage 1960s inspiration in the cars’ design and borrowed from its AMG line of hot-rodded models. Four key elements of the classic SL design were preserved for the 2010 SL 63 AMG: the silver metallic grille, the original blue aero blade at the top of the car, the fancy-designed wheel arches, and the lower side air intakes.
Unlike most Mercedes cars, the SL doesn’t handle like a stick figure, a soccer-pitch kicker. The car is agile yet stable and has maximum comfort on a racetrack. The roadster weighs in at 3,223 pounds, but with its air suspension, the car hugs the road. There’s a steely silence throughout the air vents and the interior controls, even while you’re accelerating hard from a standstill. Yet, the SL still feels powerful and engaged — a rear-mounted V8 produces 467 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. With a light foot, you can achieve a 60 mph time of just 4.7 seconds.
The SL 63 AMG has a top speed of 155 mph. Mercedes’ stiffer chassis and better-tuned suspension are a plus for cornering and speed. The SL 63 AMG Roadster is the lightest of the model line at 3,828 pounds, and has a top speed of a blistering 199 mph.
I drove the top-of-the-line SL 63 AMG Roadster around the hills of Los Angeles in winter and back roads during the summer. In L.A., the road was loaded with sun and still wind and heat, which made for great and varied driving. The top-of-the-line SL63 AMG Roadster is a masterpiece of an engineering achievement — for one thing, it’s outrageous. The smooth, mellow lines and stunning surfaces made for memorable driving.
The SL 63 AMG Roadster is one of the most spacious cars in its class. I can stand up straight, and I still had plenty of elbow room. While the trunk and trunk floor share a large amount of real estate, I can ride in front with an SL63 AMG Roadster even easier than in the previous SL 63 AMG. The unrolling roof surface gives the feeling of a convertible and permits you to step into the car like a door.
The new SL’s massive rear spoilers do an extraordinary job of squeezing all that power out of the front engine and supercharged V8, and they make for a nimble, yet powerful, drive. The chassis is stiffer and stiffer, a solid design. The heavy weight of the V8 is abated, by the sides, by the engine compartment, and by the height of the car itself.
The body panels, with their interesting detailing, make the car special. The SL 63 AMG Roadster’s body panels are made up of the side and front body panels of the Mercedes C63 AMG, which is Mercedes’ fastest model. It’s a miracle that Mercedes managed to keep the four-cylinder C63 AMG SV Project One car going on a single charge of its 313-horsepower 8-liter V12. It isn’t as quick as the SL 63 AMG, but you’ll still be pulling away from a light like a rocket ship.
— Brad Knickerbocker, Field Service Engineer
Mercury Automotive has sold and serviced GLK, SL and SL500 vehicles for 24 years. For many years, Mercury also sold SL Roadsters. The program has sold fewer than 300 GLK sport-utility vehicles in its entire history. About 150 SL Roadsters have been sold annually since 1998. A few GLK owners also own SL Roadsters. Mercury has two repair shops and an aftermarket shop — Courtesy Collision Center — in the Washington metro area. Find out more at mercuramall.com.