Mercedes-Benz SL

The Essentials

  • Price from £72,495
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 37.7mpg
  • What is it? The kind of open-topped sports car you'd be happy to drive to the other side of Europe.

Great

  • Feisty engines and suitably sporty handling
  • Room for two and a lot of luggage
  • Looks striking and is brilliantly kitted out

Gripes

  • Long nose and wide cabin makes it feel big on the road
  • Running costs will sting
  • Looks striking certainly, but beautiful? We're not sure
  • Drive

    Engines range from fabulous to ferocious and the car is comfortable and composed

  • Inside

    Easy to get comfortable, less easy to see out

  • Safety

    SL will do its utmost to prevent a crash and to protect you if it can't

  • Reliability

    Shouldn't be an issue

  • Space

    Good for two, with useful cabin storage and a clever folding roof

  • Standard and extras

    All get sat-nav, we like the Magic Sky Control option which turns the glass roof opaque at the push of a button

  • What's it like to drive?

    Even the basic engine has a mighty 392bhp which is enough to whisk the SL effortlessly to 60mph in under 6 seconds, if you're so inclined. That makes spending more on the even more powerful engines seem rather pointless (particularly since the 65 AMG costs nearly 100k more). We think the 350 handles best too, as it's lighter, but generally the SL is comfortable and composed through the corners. Even with the roof down you're well protected from the wind, but it kicks up a bit of wind noise when in place.

  • What's it like inside?

    There's enough adjustment to get any shape or size comfortable at the wheel, but visibility could be better. Fiddling through the menus controlling the major functions can be distracting, too. However, for a two-seat convertible the SL is spacious with useful extra storage behind the seats. The roof folds away in under 20 seconds and doesn't take up too much boot space  what's more you can pop-up' the folded roof to slip items in underneath it. All SLs come with sat-nav and climate control and there are plenty of exciting options to add, too.

  • How reliable is it?

    Everything feels well screwed together and on the basis of Mercedes' recent reliability record we don't anticipate too many problems for the SL.
    Safety kit is exemplary  six airbags and stability control plus sensors to detect if you're dropping off and to predict an accident and prime the safety systems accordingly.

  • Should I buy one?

    With our favourite engine (and some careful driving) you could achieve as much as 37mpg; opt for a more exciting model and fuel bills will be sky-high. You'll need a deep wallet to cover hefty insurance and replacement tyre costs, while resale values aren't likely to be impressive.