Mercedes SL63 and SL65 AMG (2008): first official pictures | CAR Magazine

Mercedes SL63 and SL65 AMG (2008): first official pictures

Published: 08 February 2008 Updated: 26 January 2015

SL63 AMG. Remember the name, because it’s what Lewis Hamilton will be looking at all year. Mercedes has let its in-house tuners AMG loose on the recently facelifted SL, and the result is not one but two supercar baiters. The SL65 AMG continues pretty much as before, while the new SL63 AMG wil be the Grand Prix pace car for 2008.

The SL65 AMG keeps its twin-turbo 6.0-litre V12, with 612bhp and 737lb ft being delivered through Merc’s five-speed auto ‘box. That means it’ll run to 60mph in 4.2 seconds while there are 390mm (front) and 360mm (rear) discs to stop this behemoth.

But it’s with a tear in our eyes that we wave goodbye to the SL55 AMG, and Mercedes’ supercharged V8. Hopefully the thought of 525bhp and 465lb ft will cheer you up. Welcome then, to the 6.2-litre V8-powered SL63 AMG. It’s the same V8 that powers everything from the C-class to the CLS, albeit in a slighty higher state of tune. We’re cheering up.

Is the SL63 AMG as fast as the old SL55 AMG?

The 0-60mph sprint is actually 0.1 seconds slower than the outgoing car’s 4.5 second run. But you will have one of the world’s best and brawniest engines under the bonnet. And the new V8 also means Mercedes can fit its seven-speed auto. In the SL63 it features the company’s new Speedshift Multi Clutch Transmission. According to Mercedes it has a wet start-up clutch that replaces the conventional torque converter. That apparently means a more direct connection to the powertrain so the SL offers a more sporting drive.

The Speedshift MCT also has a double declutching function, and Race Start launch control. There are four modes for the gearbox and Merc’s clever ABC suspension is standard. The AMG button – the equivalent of BMW’s M button – also allows you to select your favourite set-up quickly. Both AMG-tweaked SLs have the clever folding metal roof, which open in 16 seconds.

And what if I want something hotter than the SL63 AMG?

Then clearly you have issues, but the SL Black is on the way. In the meantime Merc is offering a AMG Performance Studio to at least give your SL the Black Series looks. Carbonfibre exterior trim, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, AMG wheels, and bigger brakes for the SL63 are all part of the package.

Both cars will be available in the UK from April 2008. Expect the SL63 to cost £100,000, and the SL65 to top £150k.

By Ben Pulman

Ex-CAR editor-at-large