Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Performance
Reviewers agree that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has a comfortable, refined ride. They write that the base SL550 has impressive acceleration and that the SL63 and SL65 AMG are fiercely quick. What separates the SL-Class from other luxury sports cars, according to critics, is that while it remains composed through corners and is generally fun to drive, it isn't as nimble as rivals like the Porsche Boxster, as they note that it is more of a grand touring roadster than track star.
- "Yet when you back off, the SL550 obediently turns into the ultimate boulevard cruiser. Its automatic transmission shifts almost imperceptibly, while its suspension soaks up bumps like an S-Class." -- Edmunds
- "Although more of a high-performance grand-tourer than an all-out sports car, the SL63 AMG still boasts impressive power in addition to relatively deft backroad moves." -- Left Lane News
- "Problem is, the new SL isn't involving." -- Motor Trend (2013)
- "What is it like to drive? Like a well-balanced, well-appointed rocket ship." -- AutoWeek (2013)
- "The classification of a car as sport versus touring is more about feel than specifications, or even measurable acceleration and roadholding. If you look at the specs, the SL550 seems as sporty as any competitor, but I classify it as a comfortable touring car." -- Cars.com (2013)
Acceleration and Power
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL550 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 that produces 429 horsepower. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway, which is on par for the class.
The high-performance SL63 AMG has a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that produces 530 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, as well as a seven-speed AMG Speedshift MCT transmission. An optional AMG performance package raises output to 557 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Mercedes-Benz estimates that the SL63 AMG accelerates to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. With the performance pack, the SL63 AMG accelerates to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph. The SL65 AMG has a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 that generates 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. The SL65's V12 is paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. According to Mercedes-Benz, the SL65 AMG accelerates to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph.
Test drivers agree that the SL550 has tremendous power for quick acceleration off the line and effortless highway passing maneuvers. The AMG variants are only more impressive in their acceleration and power, reviewers add. They say that the SL550's transmission shifts smoothly, noting that the only way to tell that the car has shifted gears is by the change of the engine note.
- "Also not surprising should be the 2014 SL-Class's monstrous power, sent to the rear wheels via a slick 7-speed automatic transmission. Ranging from 429 horsepower to 621, rest assured that merging isn't a problem." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Acceleration is rapid yet smooth. The SL550 zips from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds, while the engine delivers its energy in an exceptionally linear fashion and hits a top speed of 130 mph. The SL63 AMG offers even fiercer acceleration, clocking a 0-to-60-mph time of 4.2 seconds. Opt for the mammoth-engined SL65 and you'll be able to hit 60 mph in only 3.9 seconds." -- AutoTrader
- "With the seven-speed automatic, ratio changes are extremely smooth, and the sounds tell you what you can't really feel since there are no abrupt changes of thrust as the car accelerates -- smoothly, to 60 mph in only 4.5 seconds." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
- "The engine pulls ferociously enough to make me wonder why anyone would want/need the next SL AMG." -- Motor Trend (2013)
Handling and Braking
The SL-Class is rear-wheel drive. The SL63 and SL65 AMG variants are available with a number of performance-enhancing features, including high-performance brakes and an AMG limited slip differential. Reviewers write that the SL-Class isn't as nimble as rivals like the Porsche Boxster, but they say the SL nonetheless has composed handling and minimal body roll in turns. Some add that the AMG trim has a stiffer suspension and nimbler handling. While it isn't the sportiest car available, test drivers say that the SL has a comfortable ride and strong brakes.
- "Because the 2014 Mercedes SL's electromechanical Direct-Steer system filters out more road feedback than necessary, you won't experience the razor-sharp handling of, say, a Porsche Boxster. Then again, Mercedes' hardtop convertible doesn't aspire to be a Porsche Boxster, and even with the SL's eyes on comfort, you'll still find an engaging driving experience when a twisty road calls." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Passing power is prodigious, braking reserves seem bottomless, and this 2-ton roadster's composure around turns is much better than expected -- particularly when the eerily unflappable Active Body Control suspension is specified." -- Edmunds
- "Thanks to the stiffer chassis and performance tuning done to the SL63 AMG, that model tackles corners with more authority, greater grip and more intuitive handling." -- AutoTrader
- "The ride is amazingly comfortable, worthy of a limousine yet dead flat and free of any hint of wallow or sogginess." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
- "At least in 550 form, SL lacks the razor-sharp response of a 911, but that's not really its primary mission. Even without the optional Active Body Control suspension, the SL is neutral in fast changes of direction. Steering feel is fine for everyday driving, but road feel is a bit lacking when you push it." -- Consumer Guide (2013)