The SL-class is only one step below the striking gull-winged SLS on the Mercedes pecking order, and the 3.5-litre, V6-engined SL350 is something of an entry-level model in the range.
As youd expect from one of Mercedes more prestigious models however, the SL350 isnt short of performance.
Plant your right foot from a standstill and youll reach 62 mph in only 5.9 seconds, while itll reach a limited 155 mph on the autobahn. Those figures are easy to access too, with keen throttle response and smooth shifting from the 7-speed automatic transmission. As youd expect these days, changes can also be made via gearshift paddles on the steering wheel.
The interior shows plenty of inspiration from the brawnier SLS, with a low, wide cabin, a tiny gear selector and a set of jet engine-style air vents. Surfaces not finished in soft leather are clad in an aluminium finish and its easy to find the ideal driving position – the SLs GT capabilities cant be questioned.
The 37.7 mpg average economy could be welcome on longer trips too, and an extra-urban figure as high as 46.3 mpg is claimed. Youre unlikely to reach that in daily driving, but it provides the SL with a useful touring range. Our car even had a larger 75-litre fuel tank, giving a theoretical average range of over 600 miles.
Should you choose the scenic route rather than the motorway, youll find a grippy sports car, capable of covering ground at quite a rate. It isnt the last word in feedback, but few buyers are likely to care, and the relatively low for the class kerb weight of 1,685 kg – thanks to extensive use of aluminium – endows it with more nimbleness than you might expect.
Only pot holes and harsh bumps show up any flaws in the otherwise composed ride, with an occasional shimmy through the structure.
And of the looks? Its certainly distinctive and has a real old-school Mercedes-Benz solidity to the lines, but its a little awkward from some angles. Those lines can be improved slightly by lowering the metal folding roof.
Price as tested: 85,645
CO2: 176 g/km
Its hard to find fault with the SL. Slightly brash styling aside, its a comfortable, quick, luxurious GT and feels as well built as Mercedes used to. Low weight has brought huge benefits to the handling, but the economy is also fairly remarkable, if driven gently.
Our car was loaded with plenty of options, but the SL350 can be had for as little as 72,495. Still, at this end of the market, many buyers would be happy to tick most of the option boxes – and theyd be getting a great luxury GT for their troubles.
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