2017 Mercedes-Benz SL 450 Roadster/Coupe Test Drive

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2017 Mercedes-Benz SL 450 Coupe/Roadster
A Classically Styled Grand Sport Tourer
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The first street example of a Mercedes-Benz SL – the 300 “gullwing” made its world debut in 1954, attracting a host of notable celebrities to ownership of what was and certainly still is one of the most spectacular and beautiful automotive art forms available of its day, even if not exactly the most comfortable. It was powered by four-cycle, 215 horsepower engine with gasoline direct injection. The car was capable of achieving a sensational 155 mph – not bad for 1954. The SL designation stood for “super” and “light”. The gullwing was produced for only three years and it has since become a highly sought after and prized collector car. More than sixty years later, the legend continues with four SL Coupe/Roadster combo versions for 2017 – the Mercedes-Benz SL 450 and SL 550, as well as two AMG variants for which there are no major modifications.


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The SL 450, formerly was known as the SL 400 gets its motive force from a 3.0-liter, DOHC, 24-valve, intercooled biturbo V6 with direct injection and forced induction that delivers 362 horsepower in a range from 5,500-6,000 rpm, while producing 369 pound feet of torque from 2,000-4,200 rpm. The SL 550 is powered by a 449 horsepower, 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 516 pound feet of torque. The SL63 draws 577 horsepower from a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8, while the top SL model – the SL65 is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 that cranks out 621 horses. All engines are longitudinally mounted up front and now mate to a 9G-Tronic 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, tuned for quicker shifts, gearing energy to the rear wheels.
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No longer ragtops, the SL stable members are power retractable hardtop convertibles, with the capability of lowering and raising in a mere 12 seconds with the touch of a single switch.
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In my opinion, the latest iteration SL models are positively gorgeous and well proportioned. Up front, are cleaner surfaces, restyled headlights, and a new grille that draws its inspiration from 300SL that won the Carrera Panamericana in 1952, and giving the car a distinctive face that displays an air of elegance. The new grille shape will likely grace future Mercedes-AMG non-SL models.
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Obviously, today’s vehicular requirements by both consumers and governmental safety czars dictate the final build elements of any given vehicle, so if it doesn’t meet with everyone’s design ideals – so what. The rear track is impressively wide and the entire car displays strong definitive character lines and sculpted effects from the broad, athletic nose, over the straked hood and along the strong shoulder lines past the sharply raked windshield.
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My test 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL 450 wore an exterior finish of Designo® Cardinal Red metallic with a two-tone Porcelain and Black Nappa leather interior accented by polished dark Burl Walnut wood trim elements. The base price was set at $87,050 but after factoring in the optional fare, which included: Premium 1 Package with rearview camera, Parking Pilot, Active multi-contour ventilated seats, with massage and AIRSCARF, , Hands-free access, electronic trunk closer and Keyless-Go; the Driver Assistance Package with DistancePilot Distronic, Steering Pilot, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic function , Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist; Magic Sky Control; Sport Wheel Package with 19” 10-spoke alloy wheels shod with performance rubber,; analog clock; illuminated door sills; and soft close doors., and destination and delivery charges. The final price tag as tested came to $101,935.
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SUMMARY: The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL 450 Coupe/Roadster is unquestionably a classically styled Grand Sport Tourer. From the moment of entry, when one slides into the driver’s seat, behind the 3-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel and presses the start button, there is immediately the realization that this is no ordinary motorcar. It is after all, the Mercedes-Benz of sports cars. It is chock full of technological developments and innovative ideas that enhance the experience of spirited motoring as well as of all-weather comfort and convenience. There are no less than eight individual safety systems at work, contributing to the well being of both the occupants and the vehicle itself.
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There’s a foot-operated trunk open and close feature, where simply passing one’s foot under the centrally-located sensor allows for hands-free operation. For more improved fuel economy, there’s an Eco mode default setting that stops the engine when the car is stopped to save fuel. The engine starts up again when pressing the accelerator. The added efficiency results in the elimination of the Gas Guzzler Tax.
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The polycarbonate roof panel with the Magic Sky Control filters light at the touch of a button, blocking harmful UV rays, The leather upholstery is also treated with UV protection.

A brake hold feature is activated by tapping the brake a second time, and adaptive damping is standard fare. Active body control and spring preload ensure consistency in ride quality and comfort.
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The Dynamic Select button enables the driver to cycle through five settings that affect the various performance elements of the SL 450. There’s a Comfort setting, a Sport mode, A Sport + mode (my personal favorite), an Individual setting that allows for adjusting, or fine tuning one’s personal preferences; and an ECO mode for those who wish to satisfy guilt pangs about abusing the ecology with the car’s high performance capabilities.
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Acceleration is incredibly impressive, propelling the car from 0-60 mph in 4.3seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 130 mph. Push it hard into corners and it behaves with amazing and predictable stability. Other SL models are available for those who desire greater levels of performance, but they also come with an even loftier price tag and they will be beyond the capability of all but the advanced and more accomplished drivers. The exhaust note is pleasing, but the more raucous and melodious V8 rumble of the SL 550 is sweeter.

All in all, the SL 450 is an all-weather car that comes across as a stellar grand sport touring machine.


 

SPECIFICATIONS: 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL 450 Coupe / Roadster


  

Base Price: $87,050.
Price as Tested: $101,935.
Engine Type and Size: 3.0-liter, DOHC, 24-valve bi-turbo V6 with forced induction.
Horsepower (bhp): 362 @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 369 @ 2,000-4,200 rpm
Transmission: 9G-TRONIC Seven-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Drive Train: Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-Wheel Drive.
Suspension: Four-wheel independent with ABC active suspension (automatic four-wheel level control, driver-selectable ride height and automatic lowering at higher speed).

Front – Independent four-link double control arm, gas shocks, coil springs in series with hydraulic cylinders
Rear – Independent five-link, gas shocks, coil springs in series with hydraulic cylinders

Brakes: Electro-hydraulic power-assisted four-wheel discs (ventilated, perforated front – ventilated rear) with four-channel ABS, BA, electronic brake proportioning, ESP and ASR traction control.
Tires: Pirelli P-Zero 255/35 R19x8.5” front / 285/30 R19x9.5” rear mounted on 10-spoke alloy wheels – machine face with Black painted, grooved centers.
Wheelbase: 101.7 inches
Length Overall: 182.3 inches
Width: 73.9 inches
Height: 51.2 inches
Curb Weight: 3,947 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 19.8 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 16-mpg city / 24-mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 – 60 mph: 4.3 seconds – top speed electronically limited to 130 mph.

  



Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.

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