In-depth reviews

Mercedes-AMG SL Roadster review

“The new Mercedes SL gets the AMG treatment to add sportiness to its luxury”

Carbuyer Rating

3.9 out of 5

Owners Rating
Be the first to review

Pros

  • V8 sound
  • Luxury interior
  • Agile

Cons

  • Thirsty
  • Small rear seats and boot
  • Six-figure price expected

Mercedes has been ramping up its EQ electric car programme in recent years, so it’s rather surprising that the all-new Mercedes-AMG SL Roadster has been launched. It’s Mercedes’ biggest and most expensive roadster, and features an opulent interior that has many of the same parts as the Mercedes S-Class and Mercedes EQS flagships.

It’s likely that this Mercedes SL Roadster will be the last petrol SL, and perhaps the last one full stop. So it’s going out with a bang, with development overseen by Mercedes’ in-house tuning division, AMG. That gives it far more bite and sportiness than its predecessor, but it still needs to be a superb long-distance cruiser as that’s always been the SL’s forte.

Top 10 best convertibles 2023Top 10 best convertibles

With the Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet not replaced, this new Mercedes-AMG SL is the brand’s most luxurious and expensive roadster. Prices are expected to start from around £140,000 for the fast SL 63, but you might have spotted that the new car comes with a fabric soft-top rather than the old metal folding roof. The new roof is slightly lighter, takes 15 seconds to lower and still insulates you from unwanted outside noise.

There’s no escaping the engine noise of the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4MATIC+ range-topper we tested. Its sonorous 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is one of the many highlights, not only with its soundtrack but also its performance. This is a luxury car that can sprint from 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds – more than fast enough to pin you back in your seat.

But high-powered SLs have long offered jaw-dropping straight-line acceleration. Previous models have been designed with comfort in mind over sportiness, but AMG’s input in this new version means it’s astonishing in the corners, too. Despite the car weighing around two tonnes, its steering is pin-sharp, while a few degrees of rear-wheel steering help the car feel physically smaller. Standard-fit four-wheel drive vastly increases traction every time you press the accelerator.

The SL has a suitably luxurious interior courtesy of the Mercedes S-Class limousine. A digital dashboard is standard, as is a near-12-inch infotainment screen that can be angled to avoid glare from the sun when you have the roof down. There’s a lot of space in the front seats, although the rear seats and the boot are undoubtedly compact.

MPG, running costs & CO2

The Mercedes SL is as expensive to buy and run as its rivals

A new Mercedes SL feels a little like a dinosaur, with its thirsty V8 petrol engine at odds with the push to electrification. Mercedes is pushing ahead with its electric model range, with models from EQA to EQV on sale, but the SL is going to be such a small seller that its high fuel consumption and emissions won’t do much damage to Mercedes’ overall emissions.

Buyers will be prepared for its high running costs, given its starting price. When you’re not exploring the full extent of the car’s performance, up to 23.9mpg is possible. CO2 emissions of 268g/km aren’t too bad for a car this powerful, but it’s a high output nonetheless and ensures that the SL occupies the top band for company-car tax.

Engines, drive & performance

The new Mercedes-AMG SL is far more involving than before

The seventh-generation Mercedes SL drives as sharply as it looks, thanks to AMG being responsible for its development. It uses a new aluminium platform that’ll also underpin the next Mercedes-AMG GT, and a familiar 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 engine. In this guise, it produces 577bhp, which helps the fastest Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4MATIC+ get from 0-62mph in just 3.6 seconds. The top speed is 195mph, and a nine-speed automatic gearbox is fitted.

Considering the size and weight of the SL, it’s impressive that it’s so agile. Twisty roads and long, fast corners are now much more involving, even if the SL can occasionally feel a little twitchy on the motorway. Active roll stabilisation keeps the body level through turns, and four-wheel steering aids agility. When the wheels briefly lose traction, the stability system quickly steps in to keep you pointing the right way.

The SL 63’s V8 engine is thunderous higher up the rev range, but dial it back to the more comfortable driving modes and refinement is still top-notch.

Another V8-powered version called the SL 55 and a hybrid E-Performance model are both due later on. Even the SL 55 is slated to hit 0-62mph in under four seconds and a 183mph top speed.

Interior & comfort

A high-class interior and a well-insulated roof

The last-generation Mercedes SL had a very outdated interior by the time it went off sale, but the new one feels significantly more modern. A crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster takes the place of analogue dials, showing all the driving information you could wish for, while a lot of the car’s functions are controlled by a stylish 11.9-inch portrait touchscreen.

There’s the very latest connectivity technology fitted, including live traffic updates and Car-to-X compatibility that can ‘talk’ to other so-equipped cars to share warnings about hazards. The sat-nav allows you to input a what3words address, and the Hey Mercedes voice assistant means you may never have to take your hands off the wheel. As it’s an AMG model, the SL also gets a Track Pack within the infotainment system.

Lowering the hood takes 15 seconds and can be done at up to 37mph. Despite the change from a metal roof to a fabric one, the cabin is still well insulated from road noise. There are a number of driving modes to pick from, with sporty and relaxed settings available depending on your mood.

Practicality & boot space

Officially a four-seater, but adults won’t be keen to spend very long in the back seats

Changes inside mean the SL is now very spacious for front-seat occupants. The driver and front passenger also get Mercedes’ trademark Airscarf neck heaters. Rear-seat space has suffered, though. The SL is officially a ‘2+2’ convertible, suggesting that the back seats are only meant for occasional use or for children. Most of the time, they may be used as extra luggage space.

That’s because the boot isn’t enormous, at 213 litres. It’ll be fine for a set of weekend bags, but it’s quite deep so there’s a considerable load lip to haul things over. A ‘Load Compartment pack’ increases boot space to 240 litres. At least the fabric roof takes up less space than the old metal roof.

Reliability & safety

SL may not be a big seller but it uses S-Class parts

Reliability is hard to work out for the SL, because we don’t have any data from owners. But as it shares parts with the S-Class flagship, a lot of development work will have taken place to try and ensure the cars are reliable.

The new Mercedes-AMG SL may never be tested by Euro NCAP, but its thorough list of driver assistance features is a good sign. Among the standard features are blind-spot monitoring, speed limit and lane-keeping assistance and a driver attention detection system.

Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

Recommended

Top 10 best driver's cars 2024
Best drivers cars
Best cars
21 Feb 2024

Top 10 best driver's cars 2024

Cupra Formentor review – our favourite hot SUV
Best Hot SUV: Cupra Formentor
In-depth reviews
16 Feb 2024

Cupra Formentor review – our favourite hot SUV

New Abarth 600e first look: a sporty electric SUV with 237bhp
Abarth 600e teaser
News
8 Feb 2024

New Abarth 600e first look: a sporty electric SUV with 237bhp

2024 Porsche Taycan facelift: more power, more range, more expensive
2024 Porsche Taycan front quarter
News
6 Feb 2024

2024 Porsche Taycan facelift: more power, more range, more expensive

Most Popular

Hot car deal: sporty Skoda Octavia vRS Estate for £278 a month
octavia vrs hot deal
Deals
19 Feb 2024

Hot car deal: sporty Skoda Octavia vRS Estate for £278 a month

Hot car deal: racy Cupra Ateca SUV for just £234 a month
cupra ateca
Deals
16 Feb 2024

Hot car deal: racy Cupra Ateca SUV for just £234 a month

All-new KGM Torres is a £35k SUV from reborn SsangYong
KGM Torres front quarter
News
19 Feb 2024

All-new KGM Torres is a £35k SUV from reborn SsangYong

More on SL

Show me:
New entry-level Mercedes-AMG SL roadster introduced
Mercedes AMG SL 43
Mercedes SL
7 Apr 2022

New entry-level Mercedes-AMG SL roadster introduced

Four-cylinder engine and F1 turbocharger technology is announced for the new SL 43
New 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL storms in with 577bhp
2022 Mercedes SL - front 3/4 driving
News
28 Oct 2021

New 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL storms in with 577bhp

The next-generation Mercedes-AMG SL has four seats, a fabric roof and upgraded technology
Special edition cars: the best, worst and weirdest
News
15 Dec 2020

Special edition cars: the best, worst and weirdest

Take a look at the best and most memorable special edition cars
Top 3 used luxury convertibles for £30,000
Tips and advice
17 Apr 2020

Top 3 used luxury convertibles for £30,000

“Dear Carbuyer, I want a big luxury convertible for the summer for a budget of £30,000. What do you recommend?”
Mercedes SL convertible (2013-2021)
Mercedes SL cutout
In-depth reviews
8 Aug 2016

Mercedes SL convertible (2013-2021)

"The Mercedes SL is a convertible two-seater sports car with a focus on comfort over handling. It does a fantastic job"
New Mercedes SL facelift priced from £74k
Mercedes SL
4 Feb 2016

New Mercedes SL facelift priced from £74k

Mercedes’ two-seat convertible has been given a refresh, with new styling and tweaked engines
The week’s biggest car news: November 27, 2015
News
27 Nov 2015

The week’s biggest car news: November 27, 2015

The 10 things you need to know about the world of motoring over the last seven days
Mercedes SL-Class cabriolet (2003-2011)
In-depth reviews
28 Jun 2013

Mercedes SL-Class cabriolet (2003-2011)

"Glamorous, comfortable, safe and fast; open or closed the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has it all.”

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
19 Dec 2023

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
12 Apr 2023

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
The best electric cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024