Mercedes-AMG SL 63 2016 review

4 Mar, 2016 4:00pm Jonathan Burn

Updated Mercedes SL roadster has impressed; now we try the 577bhp V8 Mercedes-AMG SL 63

Verdict

4
The Mercedes-AMG SL 63 has always been a big, bruising drop-top – and that’s still the case after this update. It now looks as good as it sounds, while the tweaks to the suspension give it a slightly sportier edge than before. There are more engaging roadsters on the market – namely the Jaguar F-Type R and Porsche 911 – but if you’ve got your heart set on an SL, make sure it’s this one.

Subtlety is not Mercedes-AMG’s area of expertise – and the updated SL 63 is no exception. Changes to the facelifted model are largely cosmetic, although the numbers still make for impressive reading.

Best sports cars to buy right now

Under the bonnet breathes a 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8, which kicks out 577bhp and a whopping 900Nm of torque. It’s enough to fire the 1,845kg roadster from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and on to a 155mph top speed. But if you’re looking for the largest number, it’s the price tag – £114,100.

Still, up against the range-topping SL 65, the 63 looks like a steal. The former, which is powered by a 621bhp twin-turbo V12, will set you back an eye-watering £173,295. It gets the same 155mph top speed and is only a tenth of a second quicker from 0-62mph.

On paper, then, the SL 63 is the one to go for. All cars feature sharp LED headlights, a bold grille and new alloy wheels, making it look more muscle car than Miami cruiser. Yet despite its handsome looks, it’s the engine that dominates the experience. Fire it up, and what begins as a muted burble soon becomes a more violent bark.  

With power going to the rear wheels only, the seven-speed automatic gearbox has a task on its hands managing 577bhp and 900Nm. Stamp on the throttle, and after an initial squirm, the SL hooks up and fires you down the road. The upshifts are sharp and well timed, and there’s little need to shift down – the car effortlessly builds momentum with huge reserves of torque.

As we discovered with the SL 400, the Mercedes sits between sports car and luxury cruiser, but the SL 63 is easily the best model to drive, proving more engaging than the heavier SL 65.

The 63 comes with a stiffer suspension set-up than the SL 400, as well as Mercedes’ Active Body Control, which does a fine job of keeping the car flat in corners. Even under bursts of acceleration or heavy braking, the body remains stable, allowing you to harness more of the outrageous performance. It feels like a big car on the road, and the steering is a touch too light for our tastes, but it’s consistently weighted; the SL 400’s feels a bit more elastic.  

Inside, there isn’t a great deal to differentiate the pricey AMG models from the standard versions. A unique gear selector, carbon inlays and beautiful IWC clock on the dash are enough to give it a lift.

Key specs

  • Model: Mercedes-AMG SL 63
  • Price: £114,100
  • Engine: 5.5-litre V8 twin-turbo
  • Power/torque: 577bhp/900Nm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 4.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 28mpg/234g/km
  • On sale: Now