ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The SL-class was my favorite Mercedes for a long, long time -- probably until the SLS AMG debuted. But there's something about this body style that doesn't quite look right anymore.
The front still looks great: a little blockier, but cool. I'm not sure I like the silhouette, though … something about the rear lines over the trunk.
It's easier to get in and out, and probably easier to live with than the SLS, and apparently has more torque, though I couldn't feel that from my butt dyno. I think much of that has to do with the softer exhaust, which sounds good, but pales in comparison to the SLS AMG GT.
I'm a little surprised at the price, too. The SLS is only about $60K more than the SL63, which to me feels like a $100,000 vehicle.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: The optional carbon ceramic brakes on this 2013 SL63 AMG are grabby! If you even breathe on the left pedal, things come screeching to a halt immediately. And it should be that way, because those suckers set you back almost $13,000! I do wonder what the take rate for those are on the SL63 as this isn't a car that I would imagine many people using for performance driving events like track days and autocrosses.
That's not to say you couldn't have some fun with this on track. I'm sure with the top down it would be neat to motor down straights, and there are certainly enough brakes on it to slow things down to make it around corners. I'm intrigued now, and really would like to get this on a road course to see how it does. There are some meaty 19-inch tires on here, and it sits close to the ground, so it has the makeup of something that should handle respectably. Well, minus the 2-ton curb weight, that is.
Unfortunately, my one night with the SL63 AMG was on local surface streets and on the expressway between work and home. No exciting twisty bits besides a couple of expressway entrance ramps that I pushed the car a little on; it handled those nicely. Even with low-profile tires, ride quality is still comfy enough to make it well suited to be a quick and comfortable cruiser.
Steering is tuned in on center with little effort required when cranking on the wheel, which I'm OK with for a car like this.
As for the 5.5-liter turbo V8, it has no problems pushing this 4,000-pound sled forward in a hurry. Throttle tip-in bugs me with the brief hesitation before things pick up and really get going, which I've noticed in other Mercedes applications featuring this engine. Come to think of it, BMW's turbo V8 behaves similarly with the muted throttle response. The multiclutch transmission works well when you let the computer do all the work selecting shift points, but like many gearboxes, the manual shift function is a bit of a letdown with slow response to shift commands via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The upright styling on the front end also doesn't look half bad on the SL with its long proportions. Just look at how long the hood line is on this thing! On the smaller SLK-class, it doesn't look quite right to my eye, but here it works.
Inside, there's a lot of space for two passengers with simple lines throughout. The center stack isn't overly busy and is easy enough to navigate. Materials are of high quality and the front buckets are good for long drives. There are also some decent side bolsters, but they certainly weren't designed for a body type like my slender 5-foot-6 frame.
It was an enjoyable night in the SL63 AMG; however, the $177K as-tested price does set off some alarms in my head. There are a lot of options available to you for that kind of money that are drastically more fulfilling. A Porsche 911 of some sort, an Audi R8, and an Aston Martin V8 Vantage all get the old heart pumping much more than this Benz. That's not to say this SL63 is a bad car, because it's not. If you're looking for a drop-top cruiser that can light things up in a straight line, then this might suit you perfectly. As for me, I want more excitement for my money.
Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG
Base Price: $146,705
As-Tested Price: $177,280
Drivetrain: 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8; RWD, seven-speed multi-clutch sequential manual
Output: 530 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 590 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,068 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 16/25/19 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 15.2 mpg
Options: B07 package carbon ceramic braking system ($12,625); P30 performance package including red painted brake calipers, top speed 186, AMG steering wheel, limited slip differential, power increase to 557 hp, carbon-fiber trunklid spoiler, carbon-fiber engine cover ($9,000); P01 premium package including rearview camera, parktronic, parking assist, ventilated seats, multi-contour seats, keyless go system, electronic trunk closer with hands free access ($4,300); 266 assistance package including Distronic Plus, brake active lane keeping assist, active blind spot assistance ($2,950); 766 wheel package including 10-spoke AMG staggered wheels ($1,700).
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