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Test Drive: 2013 Mercedes SL550 Convertible Review

Jerry Reynolds | July 5, 2012
Test Drive: 2013 Mercedes SL550 Convertible  Review
The Mercedes SL came out in 1955, and the 2013 SL550 retractable hardtop convertible I am reviewing this week is the sixth generation version and has undergone some massive changes.
Under the hood, the SL550 has a 4.6-liter Bi-turbo V8 that puts out a massive 429-horses and produces 516 lb-ft of torque. This 4100 pound car will absolutely pin you to your seat when you stomp on it. It comes with a 7-speed automatic transmission, and this combination will take you from 0-to-60 in 4 seconds flat. Top speed is governed in the U.S. version to 155-miles per hour.  
One major change besides a much more aggressive front end treatment and the body itself is 90% aluminum, one of the reasons this car has such amazing acceleration. 19” AMG 5-spoke wheels set off this new look of the SL550 and make it irresistible to everyone who looks at this beauty.
My evaluation car is Silver and has red leather seats. Yes, red, and I am here to tell you that is really works. It is just stunning! The interior is everything you would expect from a Mercedes, with heated and cooled seats, ambient lighting, pushbutton start, and rearview camera. The seats will massage you if you wish and they will mechanically hold you in place when in a turn. It is a bit of a shock the first time you turn the car.
Perhaps the coolest feature I have ever seen on a car is Mercedes Magic Sky Control. When you want fresh air, the hardtop folds quickly and efficiently into the trunk to make it a convertible. When the hardtop is up, there is a glass panel that you can look through. When you touch the Magic Sky button, the glass changes from clear to dark. This is done through an electrical charge sent through the glass. It is totally amazing to see.
Fuel economy on this car is not great, but that is hard to get in a car this fast. The SL550 has the start/stop feature that a lot of cars have these days. When you come to a complete stop, the engine shuts off but everything else continues to run.
The SL550 is technological marvel of a car and it drives and handles like a true sports car, something you did not get in previous versions of the SL. This car is 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. If you are looking at a top-of-the-line convertible, I don’t think it gets any better than the 2013 SL550.
What I liked most: Horsepower and innovative features.
What I would change: Not a thing!
MSRP: $105,500 base price, $120,505 as equipped.
Fuel Economy: 16 in town/24 on the highway.
2013 SL550 in a few words: Great sports car, great luxury car.  
Jim .
Realize you drove this a while back.....but I just got a new one and had to write!!!
I traded a 2011 BMW 650i.....and got a pretty good trade in. But I've got to tell you the SL550 is really a superior piece of equipment. It is a notch above. Primarily due to the fact that everything on this car....including the ABC (a technology that's good in theory but kinda hard to "pull off").....works perfecty. The quality is unsurpassed. Some of the "gadgets" may seem a little over the top, but they all perform flawlessly, and most serve a valid, practical purpose. And I agree with your comments about the Magic Sky roof.....indeed, it rocks. Let's just say I am a "former" BMW customer.
The SL550 may be somewhat overpriced, but it's the closest thing to a perfect car I've ever driven.
bill .
Actually I have gone back to the dealer and after three tries he was able to find Macy's across town. The first attempt took us 3500 miles to Macy's in New York. I was able to get turn by turn and a satellite view on the Android phone in about 15 seconds with a street view of the destination when we got there. The maps are cludgy and incomplete. Today I wanted to go to a specific place in Crocket CA from Walnut Creek. Mercedes took me over two bridges and through Vallejo and 5 miles out of my way. Both the Garmin and the Android took me direct via hwy 680, 4 and 80---no bridges (and no tolls).

The screen and the control really contribute to distracted driving, for example when changing a radio station.

My 8 year old hot rod has an Alpine system, we have a Garmin and now the Andriod phone. All are easier than the Merc system.

We specifically did not seriously consider BMW because of the bad rap over their idrive system but could it be worse than the Mercedes system? The problem is it really contributes to distracted driving.

Mercedes has their advisor web site (www.mercedesbenzadvisors.com) and the most common complaint is the nav system----people begging for a retroactive upgrade. I will give them kudos for the instructional videos---they are concise and very helpful. For example the HOLD feature. Works just like the "Hill Holder" in the 1949 Studebaker I learned to drive in on San Francisco hills....an "innovative" Mercedes feature...coupled with an automatic??? Why? A stick yes.

You are the car expert (BTW I love the show) but I am a car consumer and the cars are far too complicated, as are DVR's, phones, tablets, even garden sprinkler timers. We have too many people designing complicated features into today's products when ther KISS principle usually works best.
Jerry .
I am a little surprised actually. There is a learning curve to some of the Nav. systems, I just had a Benz like week and thought it was fine. I've been in cars with a lot more complicated systems.

I think your dealer should have someone sit down with you and go over it again. After you are used to everything else with the car, many times that will help!

Good luck.

Jerry Reynolds “The Car Pro”
bill .
Did you try the electronics? How about the nav system, have they made it user friendly? We purchased a 2012 e350c and it is a great looking car and seems to have adequate power and OK fuel economy, but after six months of ownership, we are ready to dump the car because of the totally crappy nav system, uncomfortable seats (like sitting on park bench) and a very distracting command system. When we discussed this after I bought the car, you said to give it a chance and I would like it. Well I have and I do not.

My experience---Mercedes are way over rated and way over priced. Prior to the MZB, I had 5 new BMW's. Better cars to drive. I get more respect at the country club with my restored 56 Ford Fairlane---daily driver
William M.
Why not consider basically the same vehicle, albeit 20% smaller, but at a 35% price discount. I'm speaking about the SLK 55 with 415 hp & just as fast to 60 mph. Great car!