The 2017 Mercedes SL450 is a car that can proudly live up to its legacy.
That hasn’t always been the case in the SL world. Those two letters first came together for Mercedes back in 1952 with the W194 racing car. SL stood for “sport light”. It gained fame with the iconic 300SL. Those were cars that were rooted in racing and performance. But other SLs haven’t always done the same. Shortly after the 300SL hit the streets, Mercedes introduced the 190SL. It was a beautiful car, but in reality it was neither sporty nor light.
As time marched on, the SL was known more as a sporty looking luxury cruiser. It owned that niche well, but it just wasn’t the same.
You can’t say the same for today’s SL450. Sure, it’s still a great luxury cruiser, but it’s honoring its sporty roots.
Let’s make it clear, the SL450 is a performance car. It has a 3.0 liter V6 engine that pumps out 362 horsepower through a new nine speed transmission. Push the throttle and you instantly feel the response. Want more? The SL550 delivers 449 horses and the AMG versions top out at 621 horsepower. More is nearly always better, but anyone buying the SL450 won’t be left disappointed. You can also use Dynamic Select to tweak the engine, transmission and suspension. I loved the fact that it had two different sport modes. And while people buying this car aren’t likely to care an awful lot about fuel mileage, the SL450 delivers an impressive 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for a combined 23 mpg.
Mercedes changed the sheet metal on the 2017 SL models. From the front of the door forward has been redesigned. This wasn’t one of those “totally new direction” makeovers. It was a subtle revision of the old look. To be honest with you, while I like he looks of the car I wouldn’t say it qualifies as beautiful. Still, that’s all in the eye of the beholder. It’s definitely a strong sporty look that will get you recognized the moment you come into view.
The roadster is a hardtop convertible. Styling for these is always a compromise, but overall this Mercedes has a great look. And there are few things more fun than watching that top go down. The back of the car looks a little awkward, but again, it’s not bad. My test car had the $2500 magic sky roof. It darkens at the touch of a button. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go completely opaque. Living in Phoenix where we try to limit the amount of sun pounding down on us during the summer, I’m not sure that I’d really love it.
Inside the car is a wonderful experience. Plenty of luxury and sport. The seats do an awful lot. They massage you. They heat you. They cool you. They have all kinds of support. One great feature is something called the dynamic multicontour seat. Turn right or left at speed and the corresponding side bolsters gently push against you, working against the G-forces that will try to push you aside. Critical? No. Very cool? Yes.
Base price was for the SL450 is $86,950. My test car had options like the $5050 premium package (which includes the rearview camera, parking pilot, ventilated seats, multicontour seats and more. The final price as tested was $100,585. Not cheap, but at least you’re getting what you pay for. This is a luxurious sports roadster.
The 300SL established quite a legacy for Mercedes. It’s nice to know that the 2017 SL450 has answered the challenge.