The SL-Class retractable-hardtop roadster competes in the upper-crust sport-luxury market with the likes of the Cadillac XLR and Jaguar XK convertible.
Three models return: the V-8-powered SL550, the performance-oriented SL63 AMG with a twin-turbocharged V-8 and the SL65 AMG with a twin-turbo V-12.
New for 2011
All models receive an advanced tire pressure monitoring system, HD radio and Sirius traffic info. In addition, the SL comes with "mbrace," a new telematics system with features such as the ability to connect to the car with a smartphone to lock and unlock doors.
Mercedes is offering 100 SL550 Night Edition models with matte-finish black paint; 19-inch AMG wheels with a two-tone, high-gloss finish; silver front brake calipers; and interior accents.
The V-12-powered SL600 has been discontinued.
The front is characterized by angular headlights that are a bit sinister, a larger grille bisected by a single, bold cross-member and a large Mercedes star logo. The hood is domed and creased to carry the line from those shapes. An optional Intelligent Light System has five modes for different driving situations. In addition to the more common active (swiveling) and cornering light modes are Country mode, Motorway mode and enhanced fog lamps.
- Power retractable hardtop
- Standard 18-inch alloy wheels on SL550
- Standard 19-inch alloy wheels on SL63 and SL65
- Standard bi-xenon headlights
- Optional Intelligent Light System
The SL has leather-trimmed seats for two and a long list of comfort and convenience features to justify its lofty price, including the Comand system. Comand has an optional Universal Consumer Interface — a port that accepts portable music players and flash memory and controls them through the stereo, complete with onscreen menus. Bluetooth phone functionality and the option of watching DVDs on the screen (when the car is parked) are also added.
An interesting option is Airscarf, two small fans incorporated into each head restraint that blow warm air at the occupant's neck. Mercedes says the objective is to "extend the open-air driving season."
- "Mbrace" telematics system
- Voice-activated Comand system with 8-inch dash screen and center console control knob
- Beverage cooler in glove box
- 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system
Under the Hood
The SL550 has a 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8. The SL63 AMG's 6.2-liter V-8 makes 518 hp, and the SL65 AMG's twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 generates 604 hp. All versions are rear-wheel drive.
- Seven-speed automatic transmission (SL550, SL63)
- Five-speed automatic (SL65)
- Standard active suspension system (Active Body Control)
- Optional Direct Steer system
The SL-Class' standard safety features include:
- All-disc antilock brakes
- Electronic stability system
- Side-impact airbags
- Driver's side knee airbag
- Popup roll bar
- Active head restraints