The 2017 Mercedes-AMG SL63 is an anomaly of a car. It’s made to relish the open air, soak in the sun, let the road guide your adventure with top-down bliss, and destroy the road below you with incredible power. Don’t think for a second that this Mercedes is a sedate and uninspiring convertible because it covers ground like a sedan, instead, let us tell you about the beast that lay dormant within.
At the heart of this AMG convertible is their hand-built, hand-massaged 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8—a ludicrously nuclear-powered sledgehammer of a motor. Developing 577 horsepower, and a mind-altering 664 lb.-ft of torque, the car will spin its wheels faster than you can spin the ones in your head, meaning you better keep on your toes. Power is immediate and can be somewhat overwhelming if you’re not ready for it. If it's wet out, forget about traction at anything other than a sneeze with your foot; this is a car for the experienced, and if you’re a judicious pedal pusher with the traction off, you best be on top of your game. This is a performance-bred racecar at heart. One that is incredibly fun and rewarding.
With the top down, that incredible AMG sound resonates through and through up in the cockpit. You’ll suck down gas at tremendous rates, but it’s worth the extra money you’ll cough up going from gas station to gas station just to hear the sharp and separate rhythm of each cylinder firing in organized chaos.
The power hardtop roof is a beautifully designed piece of engineering with carbon fiber on the trunk keeping it light, and trick functionality keeping it practical. It will go down in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 25 mph. The SL63’s greatest parlor trick is the optional Magic Sky Control transparent roof, which at the press of a button, darkens the glass keeping the heat out and cool in.
Even though the motor is loud (when leaned into), and the open air rushing in, the SL remains quiet enough for clarity and distinct phone conversation. At 60 mph, having phone calls that you can hear clearly and concisely is important, as even though the businessmen are summering, work still needs to get done. A standard power wind blocker also helps to keep the air turbulence inside the cabin to a minimum.
A lot of the little tidbits on the SL, and some Easter eggs, makes the driving and owner experience that much better. AIRSCARF pumps your neck full of hot air in three separate temperatures—not for the summer, but amazing for driving in the colder temps. Such a smart, typically German solution, is the wiper fluid coming out of the actual wipers so you don't get a face full of wiper fluid when spraying the windshield with the top down (which we've done). The key fob allows you to raise and lower the convertible, and even lower the windows on command while outside the vehicle. It might seem like a cute trick, but it owes itself to the experience of tailoring the car to your personality. Cars before it have had these types of features, and certainly cars after, but on the SL it just makes sense; it makes you want to drop the top almost all the time.
Part of the buttoned up experience is the new aluminum body structure, which offers 20-percent greater rigidity and 300-pounds lighter than the outgoing SL. This massive improvement makes the steering sharper and quicker, yet not too light. It’s a balancing act of comfort and sport, most of which can be attributed to the different driving modes: comfort, sport, sport +, and race. All of which change the dynamics of the SL from mild to wild, and sedate to seriously scary if pushed to its full, unbridled potential.
Based on our time in the SL, the new styling—which visually looks smaller than the outgoing model because of a rounded body kit and SL GT styling—seems to offer less of an angular shape, yet let its demeanor shine as more aggressive. This is also due to the fact that AMG got their mitts on the exterior with a specialized body kit that is stylish and functional with improved aerodynamics and cooling.
There’s a perfect amount of brawn and brain in the new 2017 SL. Mercedes quality is ever apparent with AMG’s muscle not being in your face but ready to unleash its ability when the moment is right. With the proper mental capacity to know when to use, or not to use, all the available power and speed available, the SL63 is just like any other convertible, except that much better.
Efficiency: 16/25 mpg (city/highway)
Powertrain: 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8
0-60 MPH: 4.0 seconds
Top Speed: 186 mph (limited)
Horsepower: 577 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm
Torque: 664 lb-ft @ 2,250-3,750 rpm
Cost: $151,500 (base)/ $N/A (as tested)