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.