By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
Beloved by Hollywood and Silicon Valley alike, the Mercedes-Benz SL is iconic as both a classic roadster and as a symbol of success. The latest SL-Class was revamped just last year with fresh design, lighter materials and gee-whiz technology to create a hardtop convertible that remains true to its "Sport Lightweight" nomenclature. Convertible editions of the Jaguar XK, Porsche 911 and BMW 6 Series offer varying degrees of performance, panache and luxury in the SL's 6-figure territory, but few can match this Mercedes' level of prestige. And thanks to its well-insulated retracting hardtop, twin-turbocharged V8 and abundance of innovative features, the 2014 SL-Class remains a sublime grand touring car.
If you can afford the SL's $100,000-$200,000 price, you'll be treated to a 2-seater with impeccable craftsmanship, thunderous power and cutting-edge technology, not to mention the intangible nature of having a $100,000-$200,000 Mercedes-Benz. Need more justification? Think of the SL as two cars in one: coupe with the hardtop up, roadster with it down.
If you're all about raw performance, you'll find more seat-of-your-pants thrills in a Porsche 911 or the new Jaguar F-Type. While neither can match the 621 horsepower churned from the SL65 AMG's V12 engine, they can slice roads like a steak knife through butter.
With the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class being all-new last year, it carries over unchanged for the 2014 model year.
Driving Impressions Because the 2014 Mercedes SL's electromechanical Direct-Steer system filters out more road feedback than necessary, you won't experience the razor-sharp handling of, say, a Porsche Boxster. Then...again, Mercedes' hardtop convertible doesn't aspire to be a Porsche Boxster, and even with the SL's eyes on comfort, you'll still find an engaging driving experience when a twisty road calls. Should you decide to answer with your right foot, you'll enjoy tenacious grip with the Active Body Control system that virtually eliminates body roll. The system is available on SL550 models and standard on the AMG versions. Braking power is also more than adequate, especially with the carbon-ceramic setup on AMG models. At $12,625, they cost nearly as much as an economy car. Also not surprising should be the 2014 SL-Class's monstrous power, sent to the rear wheels via a slick 7-speed automatic transmission. Ranging from 429 horsepower to 621, rest assured that merging isn't a problem.
The 2014 SL-Class touts Mercedes-Benz's newest-generation information and entertainment system, dubbed mbrace2. Even if you can't embrace its spelling, you'll find much usefulness and enjoyment from the system's 24-hour concierge assistance, embedded emergency services and access to mobile apps such as Facebook and Yelp.
MAGIC SKY CONTROL
Dilemma: It's sunny and you have a beautiful convertible, but you also have a business meeting and mustn't ruffle your hair. The solution for catching rays while maintaining your perfectly coiffed hair is Magic Sky Control, which magically changes the SL's panorama roof from dark to clear and – should it get too sunny – vice versa.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class remains without equal in opulence and spaciousness among 2-seat roadsters. With the hardtop roof in place, even 6-footers will enjoy ample headroom and legroom. Intrinsic to the cabin's appeal are the top-notch materials and exacting construction long appreciated in any car wearing Mercedes' 3-pointed star. Among impressive features is the aforementioned Magic Sky Control. Storage space is laudable for a roadster. With the top up, the 2014 Mercedes SL has 13.5 cubic feet, and with it down offers 8.5 cubic feet. You can pick up your friend at the airport, and she won't have to cradle luggage in her lap.Exterior
The SL's recent design revamp is at once evolutionary yet highly respectful of a heritage that dates to the 1950s. At roughly 182 inches in length, the Mercedes-Benz roadster is over 10 inches shorter than the 4-seat BMW 6 Series convertible, yet the SL has considerable presence. Its finely contoured sheetmetal, bright bi-xenon headlights with LED accents and fender-filling 18-inch wheels (19 inches on AMG models) add up to a modern take on a classic sports-car aesthetic. As a purpose-built hardtop convertible, the SL looks as elegant with its top up as it does with it down.
As should be expected in a car costing six figures, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is generously equipped even in its SL550 "base" form. Standard on that model are heated and ventilated 16-way power seats with massage function, Mercedes' Airscarf neck-level heating system, driver-selectable adaptive suspension, rearview camera and a 10-speaker harman/kardon surround-sound audio system with navigation, real-time traffic and digital music storage via an integrated hard drive. A hands-free system lets you open the trunk by waving your foot underneath. Besides their more powerful engines, the SL63 and SL65 AMG models feature AMG styling adornments along with a performance-tuned suspension, exhaust system, brakes and transmission.
Mercedes offers plenty of features for the SL-Class to make it more opulent, more potent and safer. Highlights include a Bang & Olufsen audiophile system, the Magic Sky Control roof tinter (both standard on the top-line SL65 AMG), and wood-and-leather steering wheel. The Driver Assist Package (also standard on the SL65) bundles a slew of safety features that include blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and radar-based cruise control. The mid-level SL63 AMG model offers a performance package that increases engine power, raises the top speed and adds a limited-slip differential. For those seeking the most customization, Mercedes offers the designo commission process.
To say all 2014 Mercedes SL roadsters are potent would be an understatement. With 429 horsepower and a 0-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds, the SL550's twin-turbo V8 will get you wherever you need in a hurry. Step up to the SL63 AMG, and its larger twin-turbo V8 will deliver that performance benchmark in 4.2 seconds. At the top of the SL food chain is the SL65 AMG with its twin-turbo V12. Its 621 horsepower can rocket the roadster to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. All SL models direct power to the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission, with AMG models sporting a quick-witted Speedshift version. To improve city fuel economy, every SL-Class includes a start/stop function. The SL65 is still not immune to a gas-guzzler tax, though.
4.6-liter twin-turbocharged V8
429 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8
530 horsepower @ 5,250-5,750 rpm
590 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25 mpg
6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12
621 horsepower @ 4,800-5,400 rpm
738 lb-ft of torque @ 2,300-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21 mpg
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL550 has a starting Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of over $107,000, with the AMG-tuned SL63 and SL65 beginning around $148,000 and $216,700, respectively. Options can increase these prices by the thousands. Convertible rivals such as the Jaguar XK, BMW 6 Series and Porsche 911 start under $100,000, while the Audi R8 convertible begins at roughly $130,000. Before heading to the dealership, we suggest you take a look at KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price at the bottom of this page to see what buyers in your area are actually paying for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. Besting only the Jaguar XK in long-term residual value, the 2014 SL-Class is projected to hold lower resale values than the Audi R8, BMW 6 Series convertible and Porsche 911.
By The Prof. (NJ) on Saturday, November 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Incredibly comfortable, powerful & solid"
Cons: "Its cost - even though it is worth it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The 2013 SL550 is even better than I expected, and I've been looking forward to purchasing this car for many years... and finally did it. It is a gentle beast. While incredibly powerful, it is also very sensitive. It is very touchy-feely, I feel like the car is almost alive. The electronics add to the fun. I do not think I will ever own a better, more fun to drive car. I checked out the Porsche 911, but it was too tight for me. I want to drive the most comfortable hard top convertible on the road and the SL550 is it. All my ratings are "10" except for value. That should really be "10" too, but I still can't believe it cost so much even though it IS worth it!!"
By Jim B (CA) on Monday, October 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,596overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Attractive, sporty and great performance"
Cons: "Rattles and compression thumping"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The car is attractive, sporty and performs great. However, it has more rattles that a baby's nursery and has a compression thump when traveling between 45 and 53 mph. It is frustrating to pay in excess of $100,000 for a car and have to put up with these things. And the only option put forth by the dealer is for me to come in and spend time with the shop people to point out the problems - not how I want to spend a day and it shouldn't be necessary. Between the rattles and the thumping I will likely dump the car and quit being a Mercedes fan. I have owned quite a few Mercedes over the years (Currently own an S, ML, CLK and this one.) This will likely be my last Mercedes."
By DoubleT (FL) on Tuesday, February 05, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "looks, ride, quality, room & technology"
Cons: "must be stopped to manually enter address on GPS"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This time I compared to a Maserati and Porsche. This is my 6th SL ... I have also had 5 Jag convertibles and a BMW 650. The Porsche had a weak engine sound, had an uncomfortable seat, no room for my golf clubs .... and while new for 2013 ... still looked like the aged porsche. The Masserati was just plain old. Sexy in appearance and sound, but reminded me of the first BMW 645. They discount these cars so the Maserati, Porsche & Mercedes were all within $5k. The Mercedes has a trunk that hold my golf back with the top down ... the distronics really works. The car is a low 4 second car to 60, but in florida, there are no winding mountain roads, so I did not rated any of the cars on cornering. The interior is great and the high tech the most intuitive of the bunch. My car has all the options including the spoiler on the trunk. What a car."
11 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By GoBlue (CA) on Tuesday, December 27, 2011
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great fun to drive,"
Cons: "Only room for two!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The SL has always been a Mercedes icon. Owned for 3 1/2 years, European delivery, 100 on autobahn, rock steady, corners absolutely level, room for 2 for three weeks on road, assembly perfect, upholstery and fittings first-rate, fast (0-60 5.4 seconds) and braking top-notch. Quiet with top down, even at highway speed. No shakes, squeaks, rattles after 3 1/2 years. Mechanics and electronics totally reliable. Feels like carved from granite, but agile. Reasonable gas mileage (18 city, 27 highway)"
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Foxy lauxie (Stlouis,mo.) on Monday, January 03, 2011
overall rating 10 of 10rating details
"I have never owned a car that I never want to get out of. The phone is so easy to use, hands free. A massage while driving is remarkable. I never tire of the sl550."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Izollo (Hilton Head Island, SC) on Sunday, November 28, 2010
overall rating 2 of 10rating details
"I will never buy another Mercedes Benz auto. While the engine and transmittions are well made, I am shocked at how poorly the other elemens of the care are constructed. Additionally, the cost of replacement parts is unbelievely expensive. For example, distributor cap and rotor $365 and yes, you have two of them. EZL, $2800. AC cooler- $3800 Front bumper cover (painted) $2500. Keeping this car up is one of the worlds biggest rip-offs. Stay away from any Mercedes auto. My purchase of one was the greatest finanical move of my life. My SL500 is a 1994 model so I can not begin to think how much more expensive it would be to repair a newer model."
4 people out of 13 found this review helpful