2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Interior
This interior review was written when the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class was new.
Though many critics would agree with the Boston Globe's observation that the interior "features sumptuous, stitched leather (even on dashboard seams), elegant wood, a big cockpit feel, and firm, gripping seats," many conclude that its dash layout needs improvement. According to the Kansas City Star, "The center section of the instrument panel is rather small and the controls for the heating and cooling are not the easiest to understand without a trip through the owner's manual." Consumer Guide adds, "Pop-out cupholders obscure navigation screen and nearby climate controls."
The SL550 offers seating for two, and comes standard with heated/leather 12-way power front seats with adjustable lumbar support and three-position memory -- linked to the position of both the steering column and outside mirrors. "Though it's not cramped, the SL550's two-person cockpit is definitely intimate," says a Cars.com critic. "I'm 6-foot-1 and was able to get comfortable in the car, but could tell I was nearing the constraints of the cabin when attempts to move the driver's seat farther backward resulted in the backrest tilting forward without my help." Still, Kelley Blue Book points out that "you'll be hard pressed to find a more comfortable set of seats."
Though the SL550 comes equipped with a programmable easy-exist feature that can slide the driver's seat back and move the steering column, entering and exiting the cabin can still be a challenge. "Sliding into the driver's seat requires clearing a substantial chrome door sill," writes Cars.com. "It's also a bit difficult to extract yourself from the car, but no more so than in other sports cars." Consumer Guide agrees, noting that the SL550's low-slung body and long doors "complicate entry/exit."
Even so, auto writers stress that the SL550's open cabin doesn't hinder driver and passenger comfort. "Open-air driving was very comfortable, even at highway speeds," reports the Kansas City Star. "The cockpit had very little wind disturbance with the side windows up and the wind blocker screen in place behind the seat. Wind roar, even with the windows down, was not excessive."
Although the SL550 is outfitted with the latest technology, some think its convenience features are complicated to use. "The SL's cockpit is awash in leather and power features," says Kelley Blue Book. "In fact, just about everything inside the SL is automated, which means you set it once, then forget it. We should point out that some of the controls -- the COMAND system, for example -- are complicated and take some effort to master." Cars.com adds that the vehicle's standard navigation system isn't as "intuitive as competing touch-screen systems."
Included among the many standard comfort and convenience features on every 2008 SL550 are a multifunctional steering wheel, four-way tilt/telescoping power steering column, Hands-Free Communication System, six-disc CD changer, Bose Cabin Surround digital surround-sound system, DVD-based navigation system, and Mercedes Benz's Cockpit Management and Data system (COMAND) -- which consolidates the communication-related controls.
The SL550 provides 10.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the top up and 7.2 cubic feet with the top down. Edmunds calls these dimensions "decent," and Cars.com says they're "respectable." Adding to the 550's versatility is its Easy-Pack system -- which tilts the folded roof up for easier access to the trunk. The Kansas City Star explains, "the retractable hard top folds up and tucks itself into the trunk, and there's room for a couple of small bags when the top is folded, which is not often the case with retractable tops." Other standard storage features include a shelf behind the seats with retractable luggage straps and dual enclosed storage compartments. These compartments automatically lock with the doors to ensure security when parking with the top down.