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2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

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2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By KBB.com Editors


In the world of premium and exotic roadsters, only a handful of vehicles offer the exclusivity, performance and overall reliability of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL. Highlighting its stunning exterior is a clever retractable hardtop, allowing the SL to serve as both coupe and convertible. The SL's varied model line delivers performance ranging from impressively quick to awesomely fast, and the car's extensive list of safety features is unsurpassed in this category. Few exotics can match the SL's impressively smooth and comfortable ride, either. Price may be the SL's only Achilles' heel, with the lowest-priced SL starting tens of thousands of dollars higher than a BMW 650i or Jaguar XK.

You'll Like This Car If...

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL is more than just a performance dynamo; it's an attention grabber. The car looks as good with the power-operated hardtop covering the cockpit as it does when the top is retracted. If you believe a car should signal to the world the level of your success, the SL is the perfect spokesperson.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The only reason not to like the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL is the price. Don't feel bad; well over 90 percent of the rest of us can't afford one, either.

What's New for 2008

Changes for 2008 are limited to new 18-inch wheels for the SL550 and the addition of Nappa Leather to the Trim Package.

Driving It Driving Impressions

As you drive the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL you'll feel exactness in the steering wheel and brakes and in the way the car corners and copes with emergency situations. What you don't feel is the army of computers monitoring, controlling and adjusting every facet of the SL driving experience. Mercedes-Benz has equipped the SL with Active Body Control, an innovative suspension that helps keep the car level in sharp turns. The system can also detect when a rollover is imminent, activating the pop-up rollover bar. The SL550 combines both power and price into a very desirable package. Powered by a 382-horsepower V8, the SL550 rockets from dead stops like a stone leaving a slingshot, perhaps leaving one wondering just what in the world you might do with all the power of the other even more-potent SL variants.

Favorite Features

Retractable Hardtop
The SL's retractable hardtop works flawlessly and, when in place, is as handsomely appointed inside as any Mercedes coupe.

Panorama Glass Panel Top
The optional panorama glass panel top puts a unique twist on the retractable hardtop design.

Vehicle Details Interior

The SL's cockpit is awash in leather and power features. In fact, just about everything inside the SL is automated, which means you set it once, then forget it. We should point out that some of the controls---the COMAND system, for example---are complicated and take some effort to master. As for overall comfort, you'll be hard pressed to find a more comfortable set of seats, and the SL's ingenious folding top design doesn't take up the entire trunk when retracted, leaving just over seven cubic feet for luggage or shopping bags.

Exterior

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL blends many lines from the latest Mercedes-Benz show cars into a production coupe that words alone cannot adequately describe. A long hood, short deck, massive wheels and a barely detectable retractable hardtop put the SL in a class all its own. Deeply sculpted side scoops and a protruding nose mark a revolutionary departure from the conservative styling found on the previous generation SL. Yet below the seductive skin the SL's legendary structural and safety features remain intact.

Notable Standard Equipment

As standard equipment, the SL550 has dual-zone automatic air conditioning, the COMAND system, driver's information center, illuminated keyless remote, xenon HID headlamps with wiper/washers, auto-dimming mirrors with right-hand tilt-down feature, navigation, Bose audio, frontal airbags, dual side-impact airbags, automatic pop-up roll bar, dual 12-way leather power seats, cruise control, stability program, power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, traction control, Active Body Control, a seven-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch alloy wheels.

Notable Optional Equipment

Some of the SL's more popular options include: The Trim Package (SL550) which includes Nappa leather seats and a wood shift knob; the Sport Package, which adds an AMG-inspired body kit; and the Premium package, which adds Keyless Go, ventilated seats, cornering lamps and bi-xenon headlamps. Stand-alone options include Parktronic, Distronic automatic cruise control, panorama glass panel roof with power sunshade and a power trunk closer.

Under the Hood

The SL550's 5.5-liter V8 is the best choice for mere mortals, offering acceptable power at a good price, although there is something purely sumptuous about the 510-horsepower V12 of the SL600. Speed freaks, thrill seekers and millionaires will no doubt opt for the supercharged SL55 AMG or the twin-turbo SL65 AMG, both of which offer big horsepower figures but with a significant difference in low-end torque.

5.5-liter V8
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21

5.5-liter V8 Supercharged
510 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
531 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2600-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17

5.5-liter V12 Twin-Turbo
510 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
612 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1800-3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18

6.0-liter V12 Twin-Turbo
604 horsepower @ 4800 rpm
738 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000-4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 11/18

Pricing Notes

The SL550's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $97,000, while the SL600 sells for nearly $134,000. The top-of-the-line SL65 AMG commands a premium close to $190,000. Needless to say, not many customers bargain-shop the SL. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows that a well-equipped SL550 sells at or slightly over MSRP; the same holds true for the other SL models. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL sees a slight improvement in value retention over the 2007 model, having resale figures on par with the BMW 650i and Porsche 911 Turbo and higher than those of the Cadillac XLR and Jaguar XK.

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