New 2018 MercedesBenz MercedesAMG SL Convertible New 2018
MercedesBenz MercedesAMG SL Convertible

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The Mercedes-AMG SL63 and SL65 are the most potent versions of the classic 2-seat Mercedes-Benz SL roadster, which was introduced more than 60 years ago. As such, they are extremely powerful machines, both electronically limited to a top speed of 186 mph. The 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL63 is powered by a hand-built twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that produces 577 horsepower and 664 lb-ft of torque; the twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 in the 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL65 moves the Richter scale even more with its 621 horsepower and whopping 738 lb-ft of torque. Powerful as they are, the 2-seat SL63 and SL65 are more grand tourers than sports cars, thanks to their abundant technologies and comforts. Competitors include the Porsche 911 Turbo Convertible and the Jaguar F-Type R Convertible, and perhaps maybe even a Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, another powerful 2-seat roadster but priced significantly lower.

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You'll Like This Car If...

If you feel the SL is the quintessential Mercedes, these powerful AMG-built versions should be at the top of your list. Even if you don’t fall in love with all the power, you’ll be smitten by the retracting 2-piece hardtop, which transforms these SLs from secure coupes into open convertibles.

You May Not Like This Car If...

These AMG-built SLs are not inexpensive. The SL63 starts at $153,845. The SL65, at 220,995 (both prices including a destination charge of $995). There are also harder-edge sports cars out there, from the likes of Jaguar and Porsche.

What's New for 2018

There are only minor updates for the 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL63 and 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL65. The fronts have been mildly restyled with a twin-blade grille that’s wider at the bottom, and the tuning of the AMG Speedshift 7-speed transmission has been improved to shift quicker and respond faster to the shift paddles.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

These AMG-built SLs are scorchingly quick, with the SL63 hitting 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and the SL65 reaching the speed in a scant 3.9. At the same time, these Mercedes roadsters manage to blend grace and presence with that absolute power. They are grand touring machines beautifully equipped for a weekend outing in the Alps or the Appalachians. Yes, these 2-seaters can scare you with ferocious bursts of acceleration, but they also coddle occupants with fine Nappa leather, beautiful carbon-fiber interior trim, an analog clock, a flat-bottom steering wheel and abundant safety technology. You may not catch that Porsche 911 on a twisty mountain road, but the SLs, aided by a locking rear differential and a Sport version of Active Body Control, acquit themselves well on curvy asphalt. There are five driving modes to choose among: Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and Race, each successive mode more aggressive than the other. For the record, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL63, unlike the SL65, has a double-declutch system for blip-throttle downshifts.

Favorite Features

LOCKING REAR DIFFERENTIAL
This is standard on the SL63 and SL65. By reducing the slip of the inside rear wheel while the SL is cornering, the differential allows these two SLs to accelerate out of corners sooner and harder. It also improves vehicle stability in acceleration from a standing start.

SPORT SUSPENSION
Active Body Control, with active springs and shocks, is standard on the SLs, though these AMG-built cars are fitted with aluminum knuckles and links to reduce unsprung weight. What’s more, AMG cambers all four wheels in slightly at the top, for greater cornering grip and speeds. It’s complemented by traction control with a Sport handling mode.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The 2018 SL63 and SL65 roadster aren’t as thoroughly modern inside as, say, the screen-driven Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet, but they are nonetheless quite luxurious. Besides rich Nappa leather, the AMG-built SLs boast carbon-fiber interior trim and a 3-spoke flat-bottom Sport steering wheel, which is available with Dinamica inserts for added grip during performance driving. And while there is plenty of room inside for drivers 6-foot-4 and shorter, interior storage apace is not abundant. It’s best to put your gear in the 13.5-cubic-foot trunk. Options include AMG carbon-grain aluminum trim, one of the eight available trim levels that lends the open-top 2-seaters a more personal touch.

Exterior

The fronts of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL63 and SL65 are characterized by a twin-blade radiator grille that is now a bit wider at the bottom. Further emphasizing the width of the vehicle are the front apron, large cooling ducts and a front splitter, together with a power-dome hood. Mercedes says the rear bumper has a new diffuser, and the taillights are now an all-red design. The SL63 is distinguished by matte-silver side skirts; those on the SL65 are done in a high-gloss chrome. Not to be outdone by other manufacturers, an AMG Night Styling package is available for the first time. It brings to the SL darkened trim in a variety of places for a more sinister appearance. There’s also an Exterior Carbon Fiber Package, which now includes inserts in the rear apron and in the side skirts.

Notable Standard Equipment

No surprise for a luxurious European roadster starting north of $150,000, the AMG-built SLs are not modestly equipped. Notable standard features include the twin-turbo engines, the 2-piece power-retractable hardtop, Nappa leather upholstery, heated 12-way-power seats, dual-zone climate control and a power trunk. What’s more, there’s a high-res central display with navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, plus a powerful harman/kardon audio system with dual USB inputs and Bluetooth. With regard to safety, the SL63 and SL65 are equipped with eight airbags and rollbars that automatically deploy in a rollover. Active Brake Assist provides autonomous braking at a range of driving speeds, and a Pre-Safe system will automatically tighten the belts and close the front side windows when vehicle instability (and a likely crash) is detected. Another nifty feature is the Airscarf, a neck-heating system that promotes top-down driving on cool evenings.

Notable Optional Equipment

Track-tuned AMG Performance Suspension (with 2-stage adjustment) significantly enhances the handling behavior of the SL63 and SL65 on the racetrack, as do AMG’s expensive High-Performance Ceramic Composite Brakes. Also available: red-painted brake calipers and Magic Sky Control (a panoramic roof that varies in transparency with electrical current), plus an AMG Carbon Fiber Exterior Package, 20-inch forged wheels, red seatbelts and in-car Wi-Fi. A $2,250 Driver Assistance Package includes Pre-Safe Plus, Active Brake Assist (with Crosstraffic), active cruise control, blind-spot assist and lane-keep assist. These AMG-built SLs are also available with a 3-month free trial of mbrace Concierge, which gives SL63 or SL65 owners access to a personal assistant who can provide expert help with traffic, weather, dinner reservations and the like.

Under the Hood

The Mercedes-AMG SL63 is powered by a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 that makes 577 horsepower and propels the car to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. The Mercedes-AMG SL65, with its 621-horsepower twin-turbo V12, is a tad quicker, hitting 60 mph in only 3.9 seconds. Top speed of both of these rear-wheel-drive Mercedes roadsters is electronically limited to 189 mph. The only transmission available is a 7-speed paddle-shift automatic, which has clutch plates instead of a torque converter to better handle the massive torque and make upshifts crisper. Both AMG SLs have a start/stop system to save fuel at idle; the system can be deactivated with a button.

5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (SL63)
577 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
664 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-3,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25 mpg

6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 (SL65)
621 horsepower @ 4,800 rpm
738 lb-ft of torque @ 2,300-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/22 mpg

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Pricing Notes

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL63 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $153,845, which includes a destination fee of $995. The 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL65, with its smooth twin-turbo V12, begins at $220,995 (destination included). With options such as the $8,950 Carbon-Ceramic Brake package and a $5,400 Bang & Olufsen premium sound system included, the prices for each of these AMG-built SL models can go up quickly. Other powerful European roadsters to consider against these powerful Mercs should include the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet (about $175,000), the Jaguar F-Type SVR Convertible (about $126,000) and possibly even a Maserati Gran Turismo (about $150,000), even though that Italian is getting long in the tooth. Before choosing your European luxury convertible, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.

OK, so what's next?
I'm interested in this car. What's for sale near me?
I'm interested in this car, and I'd like to trade in my current car while I'm at it.
Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used SL63.

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