Used Mercedes-Benz SL-Class AMG (2002 - 2011) Driving & Performance

Review by Simon Harris on
Last Updated: 24 Jan 2014
4.5
The AMG versions of the SL - or at least the ones with V8 power - don't seem to offer a great deal more on paper than the top versions in the standard range. The SL55 AMG and later SL63 AMG are on a par for power with the SL600 and offer considerably less pulling power.

5 out of 5

Performance

Both V8 and V12 versions of the AMG SL are incredibly quick. Originally the V8 SL55 Kompressor used a 500bhp supercharged 5.4-litre engine with a five-speed automatic gearbox, more than adequate for sprinting from rest to 62mph in about four-and-a-half seconds. There's a perceptible hesitation when downshifting, but with so much torque on offer the need to change down through the gears is rare.

This engine was upgraded in 2006 to 517bhp, making it even quicker. This was eventually replaced by the SL63 AMG which uses a 6.2-litre V8 (but without any turbo or superchardgers) to produce 525bhp and deliver a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds. However, the fastest SL65 AMG uses a twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12 and boasts more than 600bhp. This makes the 0-62mph sprint possible in just 4.2 seconds and it's as thrilling to drive as it sounds with immense power available at all times plus a wonderful roar that accompanies acceleration.

4.5 out of 5

Handling

The AMG versions of the SL have a much more nimble feel than the standard SL, with sports suspension in addition to the computer controlled dampers fitted to the standard models. While the steering doesn't quite have the sharpness of a Porsche 911 it still points the nose of the car into sweeping bends neatly and accurately. With so much power driving the rear wheels it is very easy to cause them to break traction but the traction control system keeps things in check allowing you to drive quickly with confidence.

Facelifted models from April 2008 have an optional direct-steer system which varies the resistance depending on the speed and road conditions. Meanwhile, the SL 63 AMG comes with a launch control system (called Race Start), which relies on the electronics to provide the optimum speedy getaway from a standing start.