The Mercedes SL came out in 1955, and the 2017 SL450 retractable hardtop convertible I am reviewing this week is the sixth generation version. For 2017, there are a number of changes from last year’s SL400.
For starters, it has a revised and much prettier front-end fascia, it gets 34-more horses, it is 300-pounds lighter due primarily to the use of aluminum. Perhaps the biggest news is the SL now has Dynamic Driving Modes to enhance performance and handling.
Under the hood, the SL450 has a 3-liter Bi-turbo V6 that puts out an impressive 362-horses and produces 369 lb-ft of torque. It comes with a new 9-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted from paddles on the steering wheel.
This is an outwardly beautiful car that receives many compliments. 19” wheels, the classic body lines of the SL, the dual exhaust, and hood air intakes set off the new look of the SL450, and it is one of the few roadsters produced that looks as good with the top up as it does with the top down.
My evaluation car is Cardinal Red and has white Nappa leather seats. The interior is everything you would expect from a Mercedes.
It has heated and cooled seats, your choice of red, white, or blue ambient lighting, push-button start, and rear view camera. The seats will massage you if you wish and they will move mechanically to hold you in place when in a turn. That feature is a bit of a shock the first time you turn the car. The seats are extremely comfortable, and there are even built-in neck warmers that shoot warm air on your neck.
The gauges are colorful and easy to see, and there are system settings from the steering wheel between the speedometer and tachometer.
Audio Controls, vehicle settings, and apps operate from a color screen in the center of the dash and are controlled from a round knob near the gear shifter. The system is easy to learn and scroll through.
The center console lets you choose different driving modes.
You can get the best fuel economy with Eco, but you can also choose comfort mode. However, the real fun starts with sport and sport plus modes. As you try them all, you notice that you go from a quiet, luxury experience to a growling monster in sport plus mode that changes everything about the performance of the car.
The SL does not have any sort of back seat, but with the push of a button, you can slide the seats forward to access the interior cargo area, and there is storage space on each side.
As you would expect, the SL450 comes loaded with many standard features including Apple Car Play, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, and navigation.
My tester has a little over $20,000 in options including a $5400 Bang & Olufsen sound system with 900-watts and 12 speakers, including two illuminated acoustic speakers that stand up from the dash.
Perhaps the coolest feature I have ever seen on a car is the $2500 Mercedes Magic Sky Control.
When the hardtop is up, there is a glass panel that you can look through. Just touch the Magic Sky button, then like magic, the glass changes from clear to dark. This is done through an electrical charge sent through the glass and it is pretty amazing to see.
Other options include the white Nappa leather interior, which runs $2600. Soft closing doors cost you $450, and this car has the Premium Package for $5050. With it, you get a rearview camera, Parking Pilot to park itself, the massaging seats, keyless entry, electric trunk opener and closer, and upgraded brakes.
To make the SL an almost self-driving car, it has the Driver Assistance package for $2250 that includes Steering Pilot, which keeps the car centered in its lane, emergency brake assist, blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. This car also takes action if it senses a frontal or rear collision by tightening the seat belts before impact.
Let’s talk about the top operation.
When you want fresh air, the hardtop folds quickly and efficiently into the trunk to make it a convertible, and you can drop the top at speeds up to 25 miles per hour.
The entire operation of the retractable top is amazing to watch while looking inside the trunk. It even has a power windscreen you can raise when the top is down to cut down on the wind coming into the cabin.
The SL450 is a technological marvel of a car.
It’s also awesome as a sports car, it’s awesome as a luxury coupe, and it is as quiet as any convertible I have ever been in, thanks to heavy insulation and a double-floor inside the car.
Fuel economy is rated at 20 in the city and 28 on the highway, but of course, you have to behave to get that kind of mileage.
MSRP on this car as equipped is $108,385, which I think is reasonable considering the amazing ride and performance of this car. You can move up to the SL550 convertible for $23,000 more and get 449-horses, but honestly, I can’t see any reason to do that as well as this car performs.