Mercedes-AMG SL 63 review

Believing that more is hardly enough, Mercedes-Benz has upped the power and torque of its twin-turbo V8 two-seat luxury SL 63 AMG two-door roadster while still managing a very reasonable 9.9L/100km.

Desirable high performance German roadster available in four models – a six, two V8s and a V12. All bi turbocharged. We’re concentrating on the 430kW V8 SL 63 AMG version with its extra performance  and impressive fuel thriftiness despite size and weight.

The 2015 update brings more features including an upgraded 430kW V8 and rear axle locking rear diff. For the sporty inclined, this car also has the optional firmer AMG Performance Suspension to play with. Nothing comes for nothing, though and there is a price leap.

Bentley Continental Convertible GT V8, Aston Martin DB9 Volante Convertible, Audi R8 5.2 Cabriolet

Unearthly melding of stunning performance, encased in uber luxury and strong styling, yet with sobering real-world desirables of passive safety features galore.

PLUS: So blindingly quick, so comfortable and, so smart, so safe with huge look-at-me factor
MINUS: Limbo-low entry and exit, price hike, reputed sometimes a choice of for drug barons and kept women

With its undeniable kerbside presence, Mercedes-Benz’s menacing SL 63 AMG Roadster is one of those dream cars that many people would kill to own, and yet it sells in tiny numbers.  Maybe the $399,000 price tag has some play there.

Certainly Mercedes puts a high value on its SL customers, who from tracking research, have a marvellous habit of returning again and again to trade on the latest and greatest. Gotta love that loyalty.

Anecdotally, many SLs are seen driven by women even though not many are bought by women.  Draw your own conclusions from that.

As part of a move to streamline production and the model offerings of some of its high-end products, Mercedes-Benz Australia now offers this upgraded 430kW bi turbo 5.5-litre V8 SL 63 AMG to sell alongside the entry 3.0-litre SL 400 and 4.7-litre SL 500 and the second AMG-tuned SL, the 6.0-litre 65 AMG V12.  Something for everyone, if we were all mega wealthy.

The revised 2015 SL 63 AMG packs 35kW more than the old version. There is also the hardly inconsequential matter of the 900Nm it produces – 100Nm up on the last engine. Put the throttle down and it moves the 1845kg aluminium-bodied SL along with almost playful abandon.

The chameleon-like SL 63 AMG is a luxury cruiser that easily transitions into an outrageously quick sports car. Remarkably for a luxury convertible, er roadster - even one with a vario-roof hardtop that folds away swiftly - the result is genuinely unruly performance, underscored by a zero-100km/h acceleration time of 4.2 seconds, a little faster than the last iteration. Keep the hammer down in the right environment, and 200 km/h is reached in in 12.6 seconds.  Scenery is a bewildering blur.

In addition, to cope with the extra power, the AMG locking diff is now standard.

Our test car was also somewhat bizarrely equipped with what AMG calls its AMG Performance Suspension.  We say “bizarrely” because the standard SL 63 suspension is firm and sporty anyway. Now, with the performance suspension, damping stiffness is up 30 per cent.

Younger customers tend to opt for AMG versions, and sportier handling, even if this ventures into extreme territory. Optional only on the SL 63 ($1750 MLP), the firmer suspension and damping of Active Body Control allows a sportier style of driving but not necessarily suitable for our lumpy roads. Wheels’ drive to Bathurst and back was mainly negotiated in the softer and impressively tuned Comfort setting, with just an occasional flick into the tauter Sport mode to feel the differences.

On the twisty bends, it changed direction without a feeling of heft, the only negative being a slight numbness in the steering.

The standard eye-blink-quick paddle shifting AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed sports transmission has, among other things, a double-clutch function. 

Switchable drive modes alter transmission, suspension and engine characteristics to suit driver whims.

The SL 63’s appeal is its ability to change its demeanour in a flash.  One moment it is a quiet and smooth urban cruiser; the next, a very quick and ferocious sports roader with a guttural growl from the exhausts.

Yet the SL 63s fuel number is an impressive 9.9L/100km average.

It looks aggressive without being remotely cartoonish, with distinctive AMG body additions front, side and rear.  Love the AMG-specific LED daytime running lamps. The SL 63 AMG rides on 19-inch alloys with 255/35 R 19 tyres at front, 285/30 R 19 tyres at rear, gripping the tarmac with noticeable negative camber.

AMG versions of the SL get their own cabin decor – this one was in red nappa leather – and there are sports bucket seats with, AMG multifunction display, with AMG identification and touches – carbonfibre is a given. All four variants in the SL line-up now have tyre-pressure monitoring and the Harmon Kardon 14-speaker sound system with DAB radio as standard.

The electro-hydraulically retractable roof, transforms the SL into a roadster or back to a coupe in under 20 seconds.

The latest SL 63 AMG is hit with a $14,000 price jump to $399,000, still a long way short of the 6.0-litre turbo V12 SL65 AMG, which is $481,000.

: Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG Roadster MY15
Engine: 5461cc 8cyl, bi turbo
Max power: 430kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 900Nm @ 2250-3750rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Weight: 1845kg
0-100km/h: 4.2sec
Fuel economy: 9.9L/100km
Price: $399,000 MLP

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