First DriveDoes Mercedes' cheapest SL in AMG Line trim feel like mutton dressed as lamb? Not a bit of it. We drive it on UK roads for the first time
First DriveNew V6 SL is an assertive performer, but not up to the car’s usual mark on refinement, nor the class standard on handling
This is the new 5.5-litre V8 that made its debut in the S-class at the end of last year. It means power rises from 310bhp to 383bhp and torque output is 391lb ft.
In fact, the SL has had a deceptively subtle makeover in most areas. There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it new grille and bumper treatment, new rear lights and redesigned wheels - like many of its wealthy owners, the SL is ageing gracefully.
Changes are similarly subtle inside: some materials have been upgraded and there's a new binnacle for the dials. Small paddles behind the steering wheel indicate this car has the Sport version of the new 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox that has a 'manual' mode with 30 per cent quicker shifts than the auto.
What's it like?
A new exhaust may be one of the smaller changes made to the facelifted SL, but the soundwaves emitted from the tailpipes of this SL 500 have a thunderous edge of menace.
The gearbox is a fine match for the SL's smooth demeanour, but as we've remarked before, on occasion you sense it has almost too many gears to choose from. It's also a pity that it insists on changing up at the red line when you're in manual mode, as a higher gear can be the last thing you need when entering a braking zone at speed.
Mercedes has given the SL's character a more sporting agenda: the active suspension system has been revised, with body movements said to be checked by up to an extra 60 per cent in sport mode; the steering is more direct, with reprogrammed assistance and a new pump; and there are larger brakes.
While the driving experience still lacks detailed feedback, the SL resists roll keenly and has plenty of grip, although a little more progression in the early stages of throttle travel would be welcome.
Should I buy one?
SL buyers won't take a second glance at the price rise of £1755, and these revisions have only added to the car's considerable appeal.