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Mercedes-AMG SL55 4Matic+ review: Redefining Mercedes' flagship convertible

By Kenny Yeo - 3 Dec 2023

Mercedes-AMG SL55 4Matic+ review: Redefining Mercedes' flagship convertible

Note: This feature was first published on 8 September 2023.

The new SL is built on an all-new platform and developed entirely by AMG.

For most people, the biggest problem with the last generation SL was the way it looked. The SL is supposed to be Mercedes-Benz’s flagship convertible, but the old model didn’t look like one. It lacked the aggression and elegance of its forebears and some occasionally mistook it for an SLK. Thankfully, the latest SL solves that. 

The TL;DR version:

Good-looking, fast, and makes all the right V8 noises. If you got pockets deep enough for it, there are few convertibles that are as seductive and charismatic.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but most people I showed the SL to said it’s a knockout, whether it’s with its roof up or down. Its long bonnet, sharp nose, and wide hips and shoulders, and classic sports car stance certainly help. Looks good in Sun Yellow too.

@hwztech Join us as we take a look at the Mercedes-AMG SL55 and put its roof down! Full review here: https://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/feature-mercedes-amg-sl55-4matic-review-singapore-price-specs #hwz #hwztech #mercedes #amg #sl55 #carsoftiktok #sgmercedes #amgv8 #convertiblecar ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Codenamed R232, the newest SL brings about many changes. It’s now a full AMG product and is actually closely related to the new AMG GT. And unlike its predecessors, it has all-wheel drive and rear seats for some added practicality. And to save weight, Mercedes has gone back to a fabric roof. Clearly, Mercedes has had a very thorough rethink of what the SL is and means to the brand.

Three variants will be offered at launch beginning with the SL43, then the SL55 and SL63. The entry-level SL43 gets the same 4-cylinder turbocharged unit that powers the A45 hot hatch, while the SL55 and SL63 are powered by AMG’s signature 4-litre twin-turbo V8 units. For now, only the SL43 and SL55 will be available in Singapore, and the one I’m testing is the more powerful latter.

The SL is currently available in Singapore in two guises: SL43 and SL55.

Under the SL55’s long bonnet is a 4-litre twin-turbo V8 that makes 469hp and 700nm of torque. Although such numbers no longer grab headlines, there’s no denying the effectiveness of this unit. And with the help of all-wheel drive traction, the SL55 picks up and goes like little else on the road. Its pace may not be quite enough to elicit outright fear or wonderment, but it’s still a very rapid thing. My sole complaint is that the 9-speed auto transmission is sometimes hesitant to shift – particularly in manual mode. In auto mode, however, it seems to instinctively know what gear to pick, so perhaps it’s best to leave it to its own devices.

Longtime AMG fans know how important noise is to an AMG car, and thankfully, the SL55 still makes all the right AMG V8 noises, even if it’s somewhat muffled and there's fakery from the speakers. Stricter emissions regulations mean it won’t sound as good as an early C63 but it still starts with a pleasing V8 “woofle” and it growls, crackles, and pops all the way to its 7,000rpm redline. And because it’s an SL, you can put the roof down to hear it more clearly.

It may be a 2+2 convertible, but the new SL is actually quite long. It's about the length of a C-Class.

As Mercedes’ flagship convertible, the SL has the unenviable task of needing to appeal to a wide spectrum of buyers. It has to be sporty to appeal to the young moneyed folks, but it also has to be refined because longtime Mercedes owners expect that from any car that has the tri-star emblem on the hood. And it manages to do all that quite well.

The first you’ll notice about the SL55 is that it’s firm. The people at Affalterbach clearly expect the SL to be more of a rival to the 911 Cabriolet than, say, the Continental GTC. Even with the chassis set to its softest mode, the SL55 doesn’t take to bumps too kindly. It’s by no means jarring or uncomfortable, but customers expecting a more cosseting ride might be disappointed. 

Thankfully, the SL55 comes with a V8.

The upside is that there’s a feeling of solidity to the entire car. Even with the roof down, I wasn’t aware that I was driving a car whose front and rear wheels are connected only through the floor. And along with its accurate steering and other-worldly levels of traction – thanks to all-wheel drive – makes it a rather pleasurable thing to drive fast. 

It changes direction with unexpected levels of eagerness and agility. How much of this is to do with the rear-wheel steering is hard to say, because its turning circle remains quite wide (I found this the hard way while performing a U-turn), but the SL never feels clumsy even on quite twisty roads and you really get the sense that the car is rotating around you as you hit the apex and power out of a turn.

It's a sporty-looking cabin, but that large infotainment display is quite incongruous.

That’s surprising in the context of a car that isn’t that far off from two tons. It disguises its mass very well, but clever suspension can only do so much. Its heft reveals itself whenever you need to bring it to a hard stop. During times like these, it can be a little alarming how much pressure you need to apply to the brakes to scrub speed off. But then, this is a car that weighs almost as much as an S-Class.

The cabin will be familiar to anyone who has stepped into a fairly new Mercedes car. The steering wheel with split horizontal spokes is still confusing and dominating the front is a large 11.9-inch display for your infotainment and climate controls. It looks like a giant tablet has been tacked onto the dash, but at least the angle at which it tilts is adjustable, and the system, as a whole, is responsive and intuitive enough. 

Only small people, bags, and shopping items can fit into the rear seats.

Some will gripe about the rear seats, that they are tiny and only suitable for placing shopping items or little kids. Seeing that the boot is so small, I think anything that adds practicality should be welcomed. And speaking of seats, the front driver and passenger seats are fantastic. They are comfy, get low, and offer plenty of support, but the side bolsters can get in the way of steering depending on how you position your arms.

The price tag of just over a million dollars is problematic because there’s no shortage of options if you are shopping with that kind of budget. But Mercedes’ repositioning of the SL should be viewed as mostly a success. It’s not as soft as its predecessors, but it’s a more competent machine, a much nicer thing to look at, and it's hard to resist the charms of its seductive V8.

The Good
  • Aggressive good looks
  • Fantastic V8 power plant
  • V8 noise
  • Other-worldly traction
  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Capable cruiser
The Bad
  • Really expensive
  • Tiny rear seats
  • Confusing steering wheel controls
  • A tad too firm
  • Very thirsty when driven hard

Pricing and availability

The Mercedes-AMG SL55 4Matic+ Roadster is available now and prices start at S$1,011,888.

Note: Prices are correct at the time of publishing.

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