You might have seen a Mercedes AMG SL63 driving past and wondered if that car is complete piece of cargarbage. Let me tell you, it is not. It is a road cocoon of excitement and comfort. Excitefort. Comfortment.
(Full disclosure: My editor Mike Ballaban is notoriously slow at turning out car reviews, so I bet him I could crank a review of the SL63 out faster than he could. I won the bet. This is that review, it took an hour or so to write.)
The first thing you notice about the SL63 is the momentum. Even when you’re driving at five miles an hour, it feels like the car wants to continue to accrue speed. Endlessly. Never stop rolling. You’re driving down Flatbush Avenue and you want to blast past the speed limit. The SL63 wants to be doing a buck fifty five.
And you sort of get into the zone of it all too. The leather surrounding you is nice, sure, but more importantly it is comprehensive. There is leather everywhere. You are ensconced in Mercedes-itude. You begin to feel distant from the rest of the world. Distinct. Better. The hood stretches out in front. You are in your own aluminum bubble of luxury and speed.
The SL63 wants you to live your best life. That best life is illegally fast.
Allow me a brief moment to give you the car’s specs:
- Cost: $162,795 tested with options including but not limited to soft-close doors.
- Weight: 4,112 lbs
- Chassis: Aluminum
- Engine: 5.5 liter biturbo V8 code M157
- Horsepower: 577
- Torque: 664 lb-ft
- Drive: Rear
- Transmission: 7-speed ‘MCT’ automatic with no torque converter
- Claimed fuel economy: 25 mpg highway, 16 city
- Gas tank size: 19.8 gallons
- 0-60 mph time: 4.0 seconds
- Roof retracting time: a claimed ‘under 20 seconds’
The only odd thing about it is that the traction control doesn’t want to go all the way off. You have to somehow get the key into the car (it has a push button start, and no, I don’t get it either) and cycle through a special code to get the thing into dyno mode for everything to be off. In all of the normal ESC Off/Sport Mode variations that the car wants you to access, the SL63 will still intervene and keep you from doing some good smokey donuts.
Look at my disappointed face. The car wanted to spit me into that line of trees a second before this.
That’s another important part of the SL63's character. It’s a sweet liar. Remember that it makes you feel like you’re removed from the rest of the world. It doesn’t really do that. It’s a convertible. You might get the sensation that you’re in an alternate luxury universe, a sort of perfumed Stranger Things upside down, but everyone else can stare right at you, honk at you, wonder who you are and what you’re doing in their neighborhood.
Remember that it makes you feel like it’s the fastest thing on the road, the fastest thing anywhere in the world. But you’ll still get dusted by all kinds of not-even-very-expensive performance cars out there. The SL63 does 0-60 in a claimed 4.0 seconds. That’s no faster than a well-optioned BMW M4.
Remember that it makes you feel like it’s the most technologically advanced and peerlessly crafted car on sale, lulling you into the belief with massaging seats and air scarfs and a wavy haze from fresh leather. It’s like new car smell, only a lot more heady. But the car is really one generation behind what you get in new S-Classes, Volvos and Teslas. You drive one and feel as rich as you would in any genuine exotic car, but no matter how much this one costs, you’re still in an ordinary Mercedes.
The SL63 is a genuinely good car, in that it’s a twin-turbo, 567 horsepower thunderclap with some leather seats attached and not a lot of pretentiousness between them. But what makes it great is that it feels so special, maybe even more special than it really is. Drive it after something really exotic and it will feel plain and look worse.
But when you’re in the SL63's luxo-zone, alone amongst more pedestrian traffic, V8 power under that long, long throttle pedal, you never question its assertions.