The Mercedes-Benz SL is a fascinating, enduring and exquisite contradiction of a sports car.

This two-seat convertible has a triumphant motorsport history that most sports car makers would consider priceless, and for the past decade or so – thanks to the work of AMG – it has ranked among the fastest and most powerful roadsters in the world.

And yet it’s become a car revered not for performance as much as opulent luxury, immaculate refinement and unparalleled usability. It’s a sporting convertible perfectly designed to appeal to the retired chauffeur in us all.

But Daimler has greater ambitions for this new version. The arrival of the AMG models has reduced the average age of SL owners considerably, but Mercedes wants to lower it further by injecting greater response and dynamism into the SL’s character.

It has gone to great lengths to do that, by way of weight saving, body strengthening and powertrain overhaul – all of which we’ll cover in the following review. But have the impeccable manners of the grand old Mercedes convertible survived?

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