The Mercedes SL is a stylish two-seat convertible that’s comfortable and comes with a range of smooth, powerful engines, but alternatives are more fun to drive and come with more modern cabins.
If you’re looking for a premium convertible for cruising across Europe in comfort, the Mercedes SL is well worth considering. It’s relaxing to drive and comes with a range of powerful engines but it’s beginning to feel a bit dated inside and doesn’t sport as many high-tech features as most alternatives.
You won’t level many complaints at how the Mercedes SL looks, though. It isn’t quite as aggressive as the likes of the AMG GT Roadster or BMW 8 Series Convertible, but its huge bonnet, low-slung body and large alloy wheels all look seriously sleek. It’s sporty, but in a subtle way – like a plain black running shoe on a shelf packed with garish Nike trainers.
Unfortunately, climbing inside feels a bit like stepping back in time. OK, only a few years perhaps, but the Mercedes SL’s interior looks noticeably less fashionable than the futuristic cabins you get in most alternatives. That’s not to say it feels cheap or flimsy – all the controls, plastics and the brushed metal air vents feel lovely and solid – but the central infotainment unit isn’t a patch on the BMW’s huge widescreen display and all those buttons on the centre console look a bit old-hat.
Less old-fashioned are the Mercedes SL’s seats. They’re lovely and supportive and come with electric adjustment and memory functions as standard so you can while away hours on the road without a hint of backache.
The metal folding roof also helps make the Mercedes SL impressively relaxing to travel in – it muffles annoying wind and tyre noise better than the fabric roofs you get in the likes of the 8 Series Convertible and AMG GT Roadster.
The Mercedes SL is comfortable and quiet when you're driving it, even if the alternatives are much sportier prospects.
If you fancy putting the roof down, some clever aerodynamic wind deflectors help keep your hair in check and the Airscarf system (which blows warm air out of the headrests) means you can enjoy open-top drives in very cold weather. You won’t be able to carry quite as much luggage in the boot with the roof down but there’s still space for a small suitcase and a few soft bags. Enough for a weekend away, then.
If you do use your Mercedes SL for regular escapes to the country, you’ll find its standard adaptive suspension soaks up bumps nicely and the nine-speed automatic gearbox does a great job shifting between gears without any unpleasant jolts.
The Mercedes SL’s engines are just as smooth, whether you go for the entry-level V6 or top-spec SL63 V8. The latter sounds fantastic and is enormously quick – it’ll blast from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds. Despite this impressive turn of speed, the Mercedes SL doesn’t feel as agile as the smaller AMG GT Roadster. It’s still good fun to carve serenely from one corner to another on a twisty country road, though.
In some ways, this is the SL’s party-piece – it’s one part sports car and two parts luxurious two-seat grand tourer. There are plenty of sporty soft-tops out there which are faster and more fun to drive, but few that are quite as relaxing to waft along in. Check out our Mercedes SL deals to see how much you can save on one.