“An Icon Reborn”
The SL name plate dates back nearly 70 years and is likely best known for its 300 SL “Gullwing” variant from 1954. It’s a name plate that exudes a unique combination of sport and elegance. Flowing lines combined with the long hood and short rear overhangs of a front engine rear drive sports car or roadster. Over the years Mercedes has transitioned the SL along a sliding scale between two points of focus. On the one side you have the quintessential sports car and on the other a grand tourer (GT) designed to swallow highway miles in relaxed luxury. The SL in various forms throughout the past 70 years has moved from one side of this scale to the other. The SL’s of the 80’s were more GT and into the 1990’s, 2000’s and 2010’s transitioned to sportier GT’s. Especially with the introduction of AMG variants like the SL 55, SL 63 and uber SL 65 and there was even an SL 73. A serious shift in the scale did not occur until AMG released the Black series in between 2008 to 2011.
Enter the all new from the ground up SL 63. Its underpinnings are borrowed from the AMG GT and at first glance you would not be faulted for mistaking the SL 63 as an AMG GT or some variant of it. However, a double take will reveal a sharper more chiseled front grille that slants forward and sharper longer lights, overall the SL is sleeker and more refined/softer. The biggest different will be the reintroduction of a 2+2 seating configuration and a soft-top. Under the long-sculpted hood sits Mercedes venerable 4.0L Bitrubo V8 AMG variant. In the as tested SL 63, the engine develops 577 hp and provides a maximum torque of 590 lb-ft starting as low as 2,500 rpm and up to 4,500 rpm. Acceleration to 60 mph comes in a quick 3.5 seconds. Power is delivered to the ground not via the rear wheels, but, for the for the first time in SL history, using Mercedes AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system. All of this combined make the new SL the most race inspired SL ever. However, don’t be fooled. This is not a race track carving weapon like its GT sibling. It is meant to be a grand tourer, cruiser. A car you jump into with your significant other, when you want the wind in your hair and let the road take you where it might.
To achieve this primary goal, Mercedes fits the SL 63 with AMG Active Ride Control suspension with active, hydraulic anti-roll stabilization which replaces the conventional mechanical anti-roll bars and compensate for rolling movements in fractions of a second. The system enables optimal ride control when hitting those s curves, but also increase ride comfort in straight line driving. Speaking of curves and turns, the SL also utilizes active rear-axle steering as standard. Depending on the speed, the rear wheels steer either in the opposite direction (up to 100 km/h) or in the same direction (faster than 100 km/h) as the front wheels. This system provides for agile and stable handling at speed but exceptional maneuverability at lower speeds. Making the SL behave like a much smaller car.
The SL’s inside greets you with a focused aviation inspired motif. The air vents are turbine inspired and the driver’s seat feels like you’ve slid into a jet fighter cockpit. Rather than the singular display style dominating the dash, the instrument panel is fixed and formed into the dash. The center screen, all 12 digital inches of it, float between the turbine vents and creates a digital contrast to an otherwise analog environment. The seats are comfortable and adequately bolstered. Your upper back and neck are kept warm by AMG’s trademark Airscarf as you drive with your top down on those clear starry summer nights. The interior feels upscale, however, there are remnants of cheaper creakier plastics that can be found on the door panels and should definitely not exist in this type of vehicle.
Now rebirth is not an inexpensive process. All this, as tested fun in the sun and technology, runs in at a cool $233,660.00 CAD plus applicable taxes and delivery charges. An expensive mark, but it is also one of the oldest pedigrees in vehicle history even older than, likely the most iconic sports car in history, the 911. According to Mercedes AMG, that is the name plate (C4S and Turbo) that they want to go after with the SL 63. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The 911 is a much purer sports car than the SL 63, unlike its GT sibling. The SL 63 should not try to emulate what the 911 does, but rather exaggerate what it does best; which is a luxurious driving environment full of massaging seats and technology to make driving easier and smoother. This is what the essence of an SL should be and the new SL 63 does this well. Whether it befits a price tag north of $200K is debatable.