Just as orange was the new black, V6s are the new V8. Cadillac’s twin turbo 3.6L is a 450 hp brute that found its way from the CTS-V sport into the ATS-V, prompting a response from Germany. Mercedes-Benz has answered with a 3.0L V6 with two turbos making 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. This is what the SL500 was making with a naturally aspirated V8 just a few years ago.
We got to know the new SL400 for a week, and we didn’t want to return it at the end. Outside of AMG, the SL is the flagship of the fleet. It packs the latest in technology and comfort into a svelte aluminum 2-seater. This current generation launched as a 2012 model and took the world by storm. It is undoubtedly one of the best convertibles ever built. The roof panel features the translucent panoramic “Magic Sky Control,” which can change from transparent to opaque at your command. If you really want to experience the sky, the roof will disappear in seconds to reveal a sensuous roadster.
This is where the fun begins. Having the top down does not incur the cowl shake or chassis flex associated with convertibles of the past. The SL feels solid, even over broken pavement. The suspension is plush, leaving the stiff springs to the V8 models. Our car had sport AMG wheels, combining 19” alloys along with bigger brakes and a sport steering wheel.
Two dual-scroll turbos are matched perfectly to this small 3.0L V6. Even a slight rev will have them pressurizing the intake and raring to go. Gone are our misconceptions about V6 powered GT cars. With my left foot holding the brake, I brought the RPM up and launched. At wide open throttle you have a tiger by its tail. This level of power is too much for 255 mm tires, and the computer shows up quickly to end the party. Somewhere at a lab in Bremen, engineers decided how and when to limit your power, and thankfully this car is smart enough to keep you on the pavement and shiny side up.
Aside from the amazing magic roof, the SL is loaded with features that make your jaw drop. Not only are the seats heated and cooled, but the Air Scarf vent behind your neck keeps you warm and allows for top down motoring in blizzard conditions. Attention assist tracks your eyelids and warns you if you attempt snoozing while cruising. Lane keeping assist can take control of the steering with a gentle correction. This car does everything.
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Pricing starts at $96,000 for an SL400 with these options. Consider all the technology and comfort along with almost V8 performance, and the new SL400 is one of the best values on the market. Thank you to Mercedes-Benz of Tampa for an in-depth explanation of each system. If you haven’t experienced the new SL, treat yourself to a test drive. You won’t regret it. Stay tuned to Autofluence for more Mercedes news and reviews.