An automotive icon, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has long been one of the most recognizable grand tourers on the road. Since the debut of 300SL, which had cool gullwing doors, the SL-Class has made a name for itself as a desirable luxury roadster. The current generation SL-Class is the third generation to feature a power folding hardtop you can raise and lower at speeds of up to 25 mph. A new generation of Mercedes-Benz's iconic roadster is set to arrive in 2021 as a 2022 model, likely featuring a 2+2 layout. The new model will also return to a soft top format to lower weight and complexity.
With the SL 550's 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8, you get strong acceleration that'll push you into your seat the moment you stomp on the accelerator. You'd think the less powerful SL 450 would be much slower, but even that model's ridiculously quick, as we noted in a 2017 First Drive. The SL 450's lighter front end gives it superior balance and allows the driver to exploit its limits more without relying on grippy tires as in the heavier SL 550. Mercedes claims that the SL 450 can hit 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, while the SL 550 does the same deed in an estimated 4.3 seconds. Too bad the exterior styling is so busy. Our own testing director Kim Reynolds described the SL-Class' looks as a "collection of discordant visual treatments that are all clamoring too hard for attention."
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class comes in two flavors: SL 450 and SL 550. SL 450 models are powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. If that's not enough, opt for the SL 550 with its 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 rated at 449 hp and 516 lb-ft. EPA fuel economy ratings with the standard nine-speed automatic transmission are 20/28 mpg city/highway for the SL 450 and 17/25 mpg for the SL 550.
Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and driver attention alert are standard on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class. Go for the Driver Assistance package to add blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, steering assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.
When the retractable hardtop roof is up, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has 13.5 cubic feet of trunk space. Capacity shrinks to 8.5 cubic feet with the roof stowed.
Mercedes' older COMAND interface comes standard on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class with a 7.0-inch screen controlled via a set of buttons, a knob, and a touchpad. Opting for the available onboard navigation gets you a larger 8.0-inch display. A nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is standard on the 2020 SL-Class along with two USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. The sound-system upgrade is a 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround sound unit.
Exterior: LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, fixed glass roof, hands-free power trunk, sport body kit
Interior and Convenience: Three-spoke sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, leather upholstery, heated 16-way power seats, interior ambient lighting, keyless entry/start, Harman Kardon audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, onboard navigation, power wind blocker
Performance: Adaptive dampers, sport exhaust system, brake-based torque vectoring, variable ratio steering, perforated front brake pads with four-piston calipers
Exterior: Automatic parking system
Interior: Ventilated multi-contour seats with massage function and Air Scarf neck heating system
Performance: Perforated rear disc brakes
Exterior: Magic Sky Control (enables the driver to change the glass roof's opaqueness), and automatic parking system (standard on SL 550)
Interior: Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated multi-contour front seats with massage (standard on SL 550), wood trim, soft-close doors, 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen surround sound system, Air Scarf neck heating system (standard on SL 550)
Performance: Perforated rear brakes (standard on SL 550), Active Body Control active suspension system with CURVE control (helps stabilize the vehicle by minimizing body roll and allowing the vehicle to lean into a corner).