First arriving on the scene two years ago, the latest iteration of Mercedes-AMG’s Sportlich-Leicht (German for sporty and lightweight) 63 continues to give enthusiasts a road-going racecar experience as the legendary model has done for the last seven decades.
"The new SL combines the sporty genes of the original SL with the driving performance typical of AMG. At the same time, it offers luxury and comfort at the absolute top level. This combination is unique in the sports car segment and is also reflected in the interior where the highest levels of comfort and quality meet the right helping of sportiness,” says Philipp Schiemer, Mercedes-AMG GmbH board chairman, in a news release.
The high-quality combination of analogue world and state-of-the-art digital equipment makes it clear that the new SL is the rebirth of an icon for the modern era."
An extended shark-like hood, long wheelbase and short overhangs gives the vehicle an unmistakable exotic look, especially on a sunny day with the power soft top stowed (which is interestingly done so digitally via the central display). The stunning bespoke MANUFAKTUR Monza Grey MAGNO matte paint (+ $4,225) on the press loaner only added to the alluring appearance. The exactly 14 slats found on the AMG-specific grille is a callback to the 1952 300 SL.
Mercedes calls the interior “hyperanalogue,” combining traditional elements like supportive performance-oriented seats and a chunky leather steering wheel with a fully electronic instrument cluster and a big 11.9-inch infotainment screen that can tilt to reduce glare during open air operation. Running the latest Mercedes-Benz User eXperience software, the menus are fairly intuitive to navigate, though a physical volume knob is sorely missed. The cabin is technically a 2 + 2, however don’t expect anyone but the smallest of children to fit in the back.
Vents are integrated into the fixed headrests, dubbed the AIRSCARF system, circulating warm air around the head and neck area when the roof is down making fall and/or nighttime cruising even more enjoyable. Surprisingly what’s missing is some sort of a wind blocker behind the rear seats to quiet things down and keep hair from whipping around on the freeway.
A burly hand-crafted 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine propels the car, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, producing 577 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque capable of achieving a 0 to 100 km/h time of just 3.6 seconds. The sound emitted out of the quad trapezoidal tailpipes is simply intoxicating making the fuel consumption of 21.4 L/100 km I experienced over a week of city driving (almost) worth it.
Sitting on AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL, the suspension features hydraulic anti-roll bars that automatically compensate for body roll in turns keeping the SL level during high-speed turns. The ride is on the stiffer side and is a bit noisy while going over bumps and uneven bits of pavement. The composite brake discs are lighter and boast shorter stopping distances than before but are also quite squealy at times.
Variable 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive is standard as is active rear-axle steering, the latter improving agility, steering effort and turning radius allowing the long vehicle to easily manoeuvre around the city.
For the real speed junkies, Mercedes-AMG is introducing a range-topping E Performance plug-in hybrid model pushing out an incredible 805 horsepower and 1,047 lb-ft of torque as the brand transitions to full electrification. Stay tuned.
Highlights (as tested)
Motor: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 577 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 590 @ 2,500 rpm
Gearbox: nine-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, front-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 21.4 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)