Mercedes SL63 AMG

30 Apr, 2012 11:07am Matt Davis

We get behind the wheel of the lighter, more powerful and faster Mercedes SL63 AMG

Verdict

4
Range-topping AMG versions of the SL have always played the role of incredibly fast GTs very well indeed. But this car is the best yet. Although it’s not sharp to drive like an Audi R8 Spyder, it’s the most involving and charismatic SL we’ve ever tried. With enormous performance, a very capable chassis and decent efficiency, it does almost everything the SLS AMG does for £60,000 less. All it really lacks is a set of gullwing doors.
The Mercedes SL has always been a dream car, but it’s the range-topping AMG versions that have regularly appeared on the driveways of the rich and famous. This new SL63 AMG is lighter, faster, more powerful and more efficient than the old flagship, so could it be the best yet? 

There is certainly a need for a more driver-focused muscle car in the new SL line-up. While the SL500 features a 429bhp 4.7-litre turbocharged V8, it’s more cruiser than sports car. 

Video: Watch our video review of the new SL63 AMG


Two versions of the SL63 AMG are available. The standard car offers 530bhp from its 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 and is likely to cost around £110,000. 

If you’ve got extra cash to spend and want even more punch, there’s the Performance Package, which adds another £10,000 to the price, takes power to 557bhp and increases peak torque from 800Nm to 900Nm. 

Of course, you can always go a step further by adding carbon ceramic brakes, some exterior carbon fibre details and a Driver’s Package, which removes the speed limiter to take the maximum from 155mph to 186mph and hikes the price tag to around £135,000.

Thankfully, the ‘basic’ car is a riot. While the SL500 does 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds, the SL63 AMG shaves three tenths off this (or cuts it to 4.2 seconds with the Performance Pack) and feels absolutely savage. 

All that torque means there’s phenomenal thrust in any gear at almost any speed – and, of course, there’s an incredible V8 rumble to accompany the neck-snapping pace, too.

Like lesser SLs, the latest SL63 AMG has an aluminium body, so is 125kg lighter than its predecessor. Add the direct injection and stop-start system, and the car is 30 per cent more efficient, claiming nearly 30mpg economy and 231g/km CO2 emissions. It won’t win you any friends at Greenpeace, but it’s an impressive improvement. 

That aluminium structure also makes the car much more rigid, so it feels more composed in corners. Just like the SL500, the SL63 has electric steering, which isn't sharp like a Porsche 911 or Audi R8, but it feels more direct than that of any other SL we’ve tested.

AMG’s Active Body Control adaptive suspension system is great, too. This offers Sport and Comfort modes, and means the SL63 feels tight and agile one moment and relaxed the next. That’s some achievement when you consider the car rides on massive alloys – 19 inches at the front and 20 inches at the back – with low-profile rubber. 

And whether or not you add the ceramic discs, the brakes are powerful, while the seven-speed 7G-tronic auto also deserves praise. In other AMG models, it’s been slow to shift down, yet this system provides snappy changes with the steering wheel paddles, then shuffles the gears smoothly in full automatic mode. 

And this split personality is a big part of the SL63’s appeal. It’s very quick, but with the roof up there’s very little wind noise, so you can cover long distances with ease, settled in the gorgeous leather sports seats. It all adds up to a hugely desirable car.

Disqus - noscript

What are you on about AE? Is it only VAG, BMW and Porsche who can get 5 stars from you? Everything about your review screams 5 stars, but then it's not as sharp as an R8 to drive, thus it is not a 5 star rating. Mercedes has the SLS to compete with an R8 - is this ignorance or trying to come up with any reason to give Audi competitors anything less than 5 stars?

This is all about reviewing a car for what it is; the SL, even in AMG mode, is not about race-track driving thrills. It's about long distance cruising with the ability to put a grin on your face when the road gets twisty, as you say that it does.

I really cannot comprehend your rating systems...

Key specs

* Mercedes SL63 AMG
* Price: £110,000 (est)
* Engine: 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8
* Power: 530bhp
* Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
* 0-62/top speed: 4.3 secs/155mph
* Economy/CO2: 28.5mpg/231g/km
* Equipment: Active suspension, sport dampers, performance exhaust, carbon detailing and bootlid, optional ceramic brakes
* On sale: August

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