The SL 63 will do a passable impression of a sports car. Don’t think that it ever rides anything other than well – no matter whether you put its adaptive dampers into their sport or comfort modes – while truly agile it is not. But it is willing, and bear in mind what this car is asked to do: it weighs nearly two tonnes because there is a roof in place, making it almost as quiet as any coupe in the district. That roof can be lowered into the boot in 18 seconds.
And while, yes, it has only two seats, they are impeccably comfortable and electrically adjusted. Interior fit and finish are superb too, and there’s lots of kit to fit and finish in here. The SL is, for all intents and purposes, a luxury car. It is the kind of car that you’d look forward to sitting in every day of the year. If it did an even passable impression of what a sports car is, then, that would be no unremarkable achievement.
It does rather better than passable. Engine response, despite two turbos, is good: although the automatic gearbox presumably masks some of it. The AMGs get seven-speed transmissions (although they’re each different from each other; the 63’s has a wet clutch and the 65’s is a torque converter) rather than nine-speed torque-converter units that the 400 and 500 have just adopted.
The 63’s shifts well enough left to its own devices, but is less crisp than the eight-speeder of, say, a Jaguar F-type. Ditto throttle response. Pull shifts yourself though and, occasional obstinate downshift aside, it’s on your side.
If anyone tells you that an SL 63 isn’t fast enough, meanwhile, they’ll probably be telling you porkies. A 65 has more low-down urgency to go with its V12 smoothness but £59,195 is a lot of extra money to spend to shave 0.1sec from your 0-62mph time. Given you get heavier handling at the same time, in essence it still feels like the 65 exists solely so its owners can show other people how much they’re willing to spend.
The SL 63 is where it’s at. It steers accurately and with pleasing weight and response. Handling is faithful, predictable and secure. It changes direction more happily than a Bentley Continental. The nose will push on in a corner if you let it, but it responds as you’d hope if you don’t want it to, while there’s sufficient power to overwhelm the rears if you want that, too.