2018 AMG SL 63 New Car Test Drive
The 2017 SL-Class front end adds big round LED headlamps with LED running lights, the hood with twin bulges, and a grille that's more vertical, inspired by the gullwing 300SL W194 that won the 1952 La Carrera Panamericana, after a vulture with a 45-inch wingspan smashed through the windshield and knocked the navigator unconscious.
There's an A-wing design in the front that also hints of the old car, leading to a body-colored splitter. The air dams are bigger, and some body panels have been sculpted, making the SL-Class more athletic and chiseled. The effect is like a brawny sports sedan face on a graceful touring coupe body. From the side it's not the best-looking Mercedes, but from other angles it commands a presence.
The hardtop roofline and teardrop taillamps seem out of balance with the front end, so as a result it looks best with the top down.
The cockpit is precise, like a business jet, with round airplane-like vents and lavish details. The leather is stitched in two rows, and there's enough metallic trim to embarrass an Audi. The steering wheel has a flat bottom, and the shifter is just a tiny knob on the console. What a car this would be with a manual transmission.
The dash is less flowing and more compartmentalized than the C-Class and S-Class sedans. Four chrome-tipped vents anchor the dash that includes a big glowing touchscreen, optional analog clock, and more trim in dark polished wood, aluminum, or carbon fiber. The controls are grouped logically but not all identified with clear icons. The center console is wide, flaring out to hold two big cupholders.
The 2017 COMAND has Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Fancy sound options include a Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The hardtop can go up or down when the car is moving 25 miles an hour or less. The roof panels are automatically stored in a place that doesn't eat up much trunk space, because it's already pretty small. It only holds a couple of carry-on bags with the top up.
The seats are wide and deeply scooped, but with 12 adjustments they're supportive for all sizes, including long legs thanks to a bottom cushion extender. They can be heated, cooled or massaged, and warm air can be blown on your neck from the Airscarf. Behind the seats, there's enough room for a briefcase, but behind each seat is a deep bin with a lid. Climbing in and out, with the top up, requires some bending, but not as much as with a sports car.
Under the hardtop, it's quiet as a couple. With the top down and windows up, the effective air deflector makes it possible to have a conversation at 70 mph without shouting.