$72,285 - $134,090

2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class was new.


Performance: 8.9

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL offers a selection of four powerful engines – a V6, two V8s, and a V12. The top V8 and V12 – the AMG models – are particularly fast. Speed isn’t everything though; the 2017 SL offers poised handling and a comfortable ride as well. It’s not quite a sports car, however. If you prefer sportier handling, you may want to consider other cars in the class.

  • "As strong as the SL-Class is on performance, it remains a comfortable touring car at its core. If you're looking for a sportier alternative, the AMG GT should hit the spot. For most, however, the class and refinement of the Mercedes-Benz SL will make it hard to beat." -- Edmunds
  • "Despite having just two seats and offering up engines packing as much as 621 horsepower, the new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is no sports car. It never has been. This is a grand touring machine. Oh, it can go fast when you want it to, extremely fast, but the new SL is as much about luxury and comfort as it is performance. This is the car you want to drive to Las Vegas for the weekend. At 100 mph. Top down." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • … the big convertible shouldn't be confused for a dedicated sports car." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL450 is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 362 horsepower. The SL550 comes with a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that generates 449 horsepower. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard with both engines. Fuel economy for the SL450 is an EPA-rated 20/28 mpg city/highway, which is typical for a luxury sports car.

Two high-performance AMG models are also available. The AMG SL63 has a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 engine that produces 577 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, which can scoot the SL63 from zero to 60 mph in just 4 seconds. The AMG SL65 packs a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12 that makes 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. It hustles to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Both models come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The SL450's V6 generates plenty of power and strong acceleration, making it a great option for price-conscious shoppers. With its V8 and V12 engines, the rest of the SL lineup deliver blistering speed.

  • "Even the 'entry-level' SL450 delivers smooth and potent power that will quicken your pulse, while the new nine-speed automatic is unobtrusive yet gratifyingly responsive." -- Edmunds
  • "We know a bargain when we see one and the new 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL450 qualifies. For $20,000 less than the V8-powered SL550, the SL450 packs equal amounts of style and luxury. Plus a wonderfully smooth 362-horsepower twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine and sub-5-second 0-60-mph acceleration." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The nine-speed transmission earned high marks for being so finely tuned that we largely ignored it. … A squeeze on the accelerator unlocked a quick drop of two gears, and applying full boot got the transmission to descend three or four gears in a single leap." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

All 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL models are rear-wheel drive and equipped with an adaptive suspension that delivers an excellent ride quality, as well as nimble handling. A fully active ABC (or Active Body Control) suspension is optional, and it imbues the SL with a nearly flat, silky-smooth ride. The SL’s brakes are strong, especially the carbon ceramic brakes that are optional in AMG models. Notably, the SL isn’t a sports car in full. It’s more of a grand tourer, but it still provides agile handling.

  • If the razor-sharp reflexes of a racetrack-ready ride are your jam, then a Porsche 911 or Jaguar F-Type will be more to your liking. However, the more mature and versatile SL won't beat you blind in the day-to-day and it can provide an engaging driving experience when a twisty road calls." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Choose a V8 or the V12 and you'll have still more capability, especially when Active Body Control (ABC) is specified. ABC now boasts a 'curve tilting function' that actually tilts the car into a corner rather than allowing it to roll to the outside." -- Edmunds
  • "Certainly, the SL450 lacks the brutal force of the more powerful models, but it handles beautifully in part because there is considerably less weight on the front axle than the other SL models. The steering is sensitive and corner turn-in is precise." -- New York Daily News

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