The Mercedes-Benz SL is arguably the brand’s most storied and revered line. From its very beginnings in 1954 as the 300SL hit the stage, it was clear that this was to be a very special car. Now in its 6th generation, this fact remains.
The 2013 Mercedes SL550 is as spectacular to behold and see in motion as it is to drive. With more power than many performance cars and more panache than countless luxury saloons, the SL-Class is worth every penny of the king’s ransom required to purchase one.
What is a Mercedes-Benz SL550?
The SL-Class is a retractable hardtop roadster that casts a shadow on all other Mercedes droptops (and many from other makes) save for the uber-exotic SLS AMG roadster.
The Mercedes SL plays double-duty as an equal part sports car and GT cruiser with few if any drawbacks. As a flagship here in North America, the SL is only available with V8 or V12 engines. In other markets, the well-utilized 3.5L V6 serves as the base engine.
2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Price and Specs
The 2013 Mercedes SL550 carries a hefty yet well-deserved base price of $123,900. As tested, my Diamond White metallic SL550 with Premium Package and Magic Sky Control roof retailed for a shade over $137,000.
The turbocharged 4.7L V8 engine develops an easily dispatched 429 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission is a smart and smooth-shifting 7-speed 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission that sends power to the rear wheels.
Driving the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550
The first element that needs to be addressed is this engine: The V8 puts out a wonderful muted growl upon startup, a sign of good times to come. However, unlike a boisterous V8 from other makes, the Merc’s doesn't sound as much as it is felt -- and a delightful feeling it is. Only at WOT does it roar (and majestically at that).
The engine is so smoothly massaged that it almost gives the impression that it is lazy. Never rushed, it delivers its massive power without drama, almost saying that it could do so much more. From 1,800 rpm, all torques are pushing the car, effortlessly launching the Mercedes SL550 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds.
Although this may be a large roadster, it refuses to act as such. The surprisingly quick steering caught me off guard the first few times I yanked on the wheel, but I quickly acclimatized to charging the long bonnet along the right line. With all that gusto, it was nice to feel the large cross-drilled discs being clamped down with authority by the great big calipers.
The true beauty of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 is its Jekyll-and-Hyde nature. The transmission plays a large role where it will seamlessly glides from one gear to another when cruising, top down, soaking in the sun and sights. The supremely cosseting Active Body Control (ABC) active suspension levels the road surface, enabling the ability to hover.
At the touch of a few controls, the SL goes from pampered to racy -- the other role it plays so very well. The transmission and ABC in Sport transform the Merc SL550 into a very sporty 2-seater far more capable than its outer dimensions and girth would suggest. Note: The use of ABC in sport seriously requires a smooth patch of tarmac so as not to upset the otherwise poised balance of the car.
Inside and Out of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550
With the top up or down, the SL550 is one of the best physically sorted retractable hardtop convertibles on the road -- it makes the Ferrari California look ugly.
The fact that the SL is likely one of the most masculine roadsters on the road certainly plays in its favour. The large front grille, side strakes, and wheels are all eye candy.
The roof stows away in under 20 seconds, and still allows for a decent 235 liters of stuff in the trunk.
The interior is nothing short of beautiful, in materials, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. The most impressive elements are the extraordinary Drive-Dynamic Multicontour seats in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550. They not only hug the occupant in place, but counter Gs with their side bolsters that inflate. Literally, on top of that, we find the aforementioned warm-air blowing airscarfs… Dreamy them seats are.
Comparing the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550
The 2013 Mercedes SL550 is a big player in segment that spans price ranges and vocations; from the Audi R8 Spyder, the BMW 6 Series, Porsche 911, and Chevrolet Corvette convertibles.
Some are sportier than the Merc, but none are as regal.