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Mercedes-Benz models, news & reviews
By Chris Chilton
09 March 2008 09:00
Mercedes’ SL gets a new face for 2008 but there’s far more to the SL63 AMG than simple cosmetic surgery. As the name suggests, the big Benz sports car finally adopts the naturally aspirated V8 that’s already available in other AMG cars, which means that the old supercharged ‘55’ V8 is no more.
The atmo V8’s 800cc swept volume advantage reclaims the power lost by not having a whacking great blower forcing charge into the combustion chambers. Power is up from 510bhp to 518bhp making this the most powerful V8-engined Mercedes around (the twin turbo V12 SL65 is in another league altogether with 604bhp).
But it wasn’t the power that amazed when you mashed the throttle in a 55, it was the torque. The old engine churned out 531lb ft between 2600rpm and 4000rpm, but this one makes do with 464lb ft that doesn’t peak until 5200rpm. The new car, like the old, is limited to 155mph but the 0-62mph sprint now takes 4.6sec, a tenth longer.
Not really. The old SL55 was a bit of hot rod, a car subsumed by its mighty engine. Huge fun of course, but the SL63 is much more balanced machine. It’s still incredibly quick in a straight line but you have to work the engine harder to extract that grunt so you actually spend more time enjoying the chassis than you did before.
The 6.2-litre V8 (Merc calls it a 6.3 for old time’s sake) isn’t a screamer like BMW’s V10. It’s quite linear in its delivery, there’s no one point where it takes off and goes crazy. But because the meat of the torque is developed further up the rev range, the SL63 has better traction coming out of corners and the ESP light spends less of its time blinking at you like a lighthouse. It still sounds incredible, like four road menders’ drills but blueprinted and running on Avgas, and there’s now one of those pointless launch control functions thanks to the fiendishly clever new gearbox.
Click 'Next' below to read the rest of our Mercedes SL63 AMG first drive
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Mercedes SL63 AMG (2008) CAR review
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RE: Mercedes SL63 AMG CAR review
I think the styling of the new SL really lacks the elegance and presence of all the previous generations. I was at the Breakfast Club at Goodwood a few months ago, and you could see where the design cues of the original Gullwing 300 SL had carried over into the design of the SL55, the fluted bonnet, the wing louvres, the delicate use of classic details which make the 5th Generation SL a great car.
I think the 6th Gen SL is flawed in the same way as the 996 was a flawed interpretation of the 911 with it's fried egg lights. Merc will go the same way as Porsche and the next iteration of the SL, and the whole Merc range (which is looking a little vulgar presently, with the exception of the CLS) will revert to the elegant round headlights and flowing detail befitting of Mercedes.
The plastic side vents of the SL63 are criminal, the tail spoiler an unwelcome addition to one of the most gorgeous of automotive behinds and the front grille and bonnet torpedos make the car seem somehow smaller and are reminiscent of the old SLK.
And of course the 5.5 supercharged V8 is a much better engine than the 6.2 (although not quite as modern). It seems odd to have downgraded the torque by such a large amount, although i imagine this is to allow their latest 7G gearbox to handle it. The 730 nM of torque of the SL55 would turn the latest 7 speed into a very expensive box of bolts and swarf. The 55 sounds like a supercharged gasoline thunderstorm, drop it into second at 30, ease the throttle (no flooring it if you want tyres on your wheels) and watch the smile spread across your increasingly distorted face...
They both make a fab noise, but the SL55 is the elegant package i would choose. (Well, i already have!)
01 July 2008 22:24
When the SL55 was announced, I was the first to get one and it's still making me smile. The combination of beauty, grunt, and a chassis with enough electronics to make it handle far better than a 2 tonne car should. The SL63 would have to be something very special to get me to part with the 55.
Well..... the looks are a let down, and the engine is a step backwards. It's only the gearbox that gets me interested. But not interested enough to put a For Sale sign in the SL55's wind screen.
11 March 2008 05:36
Cut and Shut
With the most obvious case being the latest incarnation of their small C-Class-based hatchback, Mercedes confirms that it no takes into consideration that there should be some kind of relationship between the front and back end of a car.
Even the latest C-Class hasn't got it right, with an assertive nose married to a shrinking violet rear end. Only the most avid Merc fan will buy this, and even then such a person has other (better) choices in the Mercedes range.
10 March 2008 14:09
I used to lust over the SL as a stylish heavy hitter with more than a hint of practicality. It didn’t even bug me too much that Clarkson owned one. But now Mercedes seem to have forgotten how to make a car desirable. The detailing on this latest iteration looks truly awful. The front end, in line with a bunch of recent M-Bs, once distinctive yet elegant, is now really heavy handed and dull. The only saving grace is that the interior appears to have aged well.
10 March 2008 10:36
Love it! Unfortunately, it seat only two, so it is too selfish in my book.
09 March 2008 19:55
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