The Mercedes-Benz SL is currently in its sixth generation and since the company has released a new entry-level, the SL400, which is basically the replacement of the old SL350, we have decided to have a go in it.
Engine and Transmission
The newest entry-level to the Mercedes-Benz SL range is called the SL400 but it has nothing in common with the 4.0 liter engine you might expect, just like the SL63 AMG doesn’t have anything in common with the old 6.3 liter V12. In fact, the carmaker has chosen a 3.0 liter (2,996 cc) twin turbo unit for the model, with a V6 displacement, which is capable of producing 333 HP (245 kW) and 468 Nm (345 lb-ft) of torque.
Despite looking too good on paper, the twin turbo 3.0 liter V6 unit is acting exactly like an entry-level in this class should, it is providing you with enough power to overpass the vehicle in front of you safely but it doesn’t really allow you to enjoy the chassis of the sports car because, in some situations, it doesn’t really feel like it has enough power. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not underpowered, but if you are a true petrol head, I suggest you turn your head towards a larger engine.
Mercedes-Benz has did a good thing providing cheap and expensive vehicles with the 7-speed automatic transmission and the SL400 isn’t an exception from the rule either. This is a good gearbox, changing gears is made almost unnoticeable and despite being one of the best offered by a premium carmaker, it is still not as good as BMW is offering, but it follows it closely.
Talking about fuel consumption in a 100k+ sports car makes absolutely no sense, unless something unusual happens, but since we have gotten you used to this chapter, we will tell you that the official fuel consumption figures provided by Mercedes-Benz stand at between 7.3L / 100km and 7.7L / 100km, in an average cycle.
In the real world however, the trip computer will indicate approximately 12L of fuel burned every 100 km, in the urban environment, in a sporty drive, while on the highway, at 100 km/h, it will rival a lot of vehicles from different segments, mostly family sedan and estates, and it will burn just 5L / 100km.
The SL is a vehicle which will surprise you in many ways, for instance it is extremely comfortable in the city, going over speed bumps or small potholes and once you decide that you want to drive away fast, it will let you slide the rear end just a bit, so that bystanders think you know what you’re doing, and then every safety system will kick in and put you on a straight, once again. Don’t forget to adjust the suspension system in the “Comfort” or “Sport” mode or put the vehicle in “Eco”, “Sport” or “Manual” modes too. The vehicle is highly maneuverable, you will feel what each wheel is doing every moment but don’t expect a rough car, because the SL just isn’t, it is made to be driven by your mid-age executive who wants something perhaps more than a Porsche when it comes to driving it every day.
If you were hoping to step into a completely new vehicle when it comes to knobs, buttons, levers, materials and so on, after you have driven at least two more Mercedes-Benz cars, don’t act too surprised that you will find a lot of common items with cheaper vehicles produced by the company. Here we can mention the same “iDrive” copy, the buttons for the seat heaters or the ones above that, which should get you started with your phone or switch between USB or Radio.
The middle top of the dashboard is bringing you a nice touch, a clock, but we cannot say that the carmaker has been too original with this idea. In fact, the material surrounding it is nothing else but cheap plastic, and speaking about this, you should know that that wood added to the dashboard and to the central console is plastic too. Visually, this may be enlightening, but over the years, this may develop a sound of its own, which will become very annoying.
The dual-zone climate control knobs are also similar to the ones used on cheaper cars produced by Mercedes-Benz but there are a few nice touches to the cabin, such as the heated and cooled electrically adjustable seats, which are extremely comfortable, along with the small air vents added to the top of the seats which will blow hot wind around your neck on a cold day when you decide to lower the roof.
Despite some controls may look cheap, at least the German designers and engineers kept their patience and placed them just in reach for the driver, so taking a few spins in the SL means that you will most likely remember all of them, pretty fast. The roadster has good noise insulation so the wind will not bother you at high speeds, even with the roof down, because you get an indispensable wind deflector too.
The SL has a lot of things to make you look away from the main concerns and here we can mention the Harman / Kardon sound system equipping the tested car, which is simply great, the ambient light which has several color adjustments, support for the driver’s right knee on the center console, a good driving position, an electrically adjustable steering column, a panoramic roof which can be made lighter or darker at the touch of a button and several other tweaks, such as the storage spaces.
On the other side, just like in almost every modern car, I couldn’t find a space to put my 5.0-inch phone and this can be rather annoying if you know that you have to live with it. Maneuvering the SL can turn out to be tricky because you will have to be aware of what is behind you considering the fact that the camera isn’t that helpful and the rear three-quarter visibility is almost inexistent
Likes / Dislikes
One the “likes” part I have to mention its design, this is truly subjective but in my opinion, the new SL is one attractive ride. I also like the overall looks of the cabin, the sound of the engine / exhaust provided by this twin-turbo V6 engine, the good transmission, its maneuverability, fuel consumption and so on. One the “sad” part, I have to tell you about the seatbelt, which is rather annoying considering the fact that in the tested car I couldn’t adjust it in any way. The rearview camera is useless if a little rain will fall on it, I don’t like the cheap plastic inside it and I also don’t like the price because euro per euro, you can buy a more expensive and hotter Mercedes-AMG GT for that cost.
Tested car – 128,209.80 EUR
Mercedes-Benz SL 400
Engine: 3.0L petrol, twin-turbo (2,996 cc)
Power: 333 HP (245 kW) at 5,250 – 6,000 rpm
Torque: 468 Nm (345 lb-ft) at 1,600 – 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 7G-Tronic Plus 7-speed automatic double-clutch
Dimensions: length 4,616 mm, width 1,877 mm, height 1,315 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65L
Trunk Capacity: 504L
0-100km/h: 5.2 s
Top Speed: 250 km/h
4.8 / 5
Photos by Gabi Gogiu