I saddled up with my better half and we set off for the night markets at the Victoria Market in Melbourne. It's a multicultural gathering of food, smells and sounds. Best of all, it was an excuse to drop the roof and do some night driving on a stinking hot evening. I used the COMAND system for navigation and finding my way to the parking lot adjacent to the Victoria market.
Yes, 100%. If you have driven a convertible before, you'll know that they are far too hot when sitting in the sun. Even if you lather on tonnes on sunscreen, you end up burning to a crisp. That's why it's best to target an overcast day, or in this case, a balmy evening to go boost cruising.
The Mercedes-Benz SL even caters for cool days/nights with AIRSCARF, which is a small vent that sits in line with the driver and passenger's necks, blowing warm air.
I'm in two minds about this. The rear-end of the Mercedes-Benz SL is certified hot. The front, on the other hand, I'm not totally convinced with. The SLK-esque design is a little bit bland and could do with some more aggression, in my opinion.
The engine is at the top of my list. The old '500' variant engine was a bit of a slouch and needed some revs on board to feel energetic. The new, fuel efficient twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 is simply worlds apart in comparison to the old naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8.
The new engine does the 0-100km/h dash in just 4.6-seconds, almost a full second quicker than the outgoing SL500. On top of that, it consumes an average of 9.4L/100km.
The other standout feature is AIRSCARF. This cool technology transforms a convertible into a practical machine that can be driven on colder days, not just stinking hot ones.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but I found the COMAND system to be frustrating when trying to do things on the move. I constantly had to keep looking down to figure out why it wouldn't change screens or navigate between menus. I'm sure it makes sense to an SL veteran that has owned the car for several years, but it really started to annoy me after a little while.
Yeah, not quite. The SL isn't a family car — nor does it try to be one. It's a regal vehicle for a distinguished chap after some fun on the weekends. Conversely, it can also be driven as a daily driver. Given its raft of driver aids and parking sensors, it's easy to park in the city and fun to drive on weekends.
We shot a brief video comparing roof mechanisms between the latest SL500 and one that was almost ten years old. I was surprised to see how well kept the old model was. It still felt new and wasn't falling apart — like some of the more expensive convertible competitors. In that regard, I'd consider the SL fairly low maintenance. Considering it won't cover vast amounts of kilometres each year, it should be a breeze to live with in years to come.
For me it's the front design and the COMAND system. Those two things alone would really sway me away from this car and into one of the competitors.
Just a one night stand unfortunately. It's not my type of car — although I can totally appreciate the type of person that would buy one and call it their own. The SL still carries a great amount of cachet, regardless of which model you purchase.
Those in the market for an Mercedes-Benz SL could look at a second hand Ferrari, Lamborghini or Porsche convertible. Perhaps even a 6 Series Convertible from the other German mob.
I'd recommend it to an older gentleman or lady after a car that really stands out and shows everyone that they have succeeded in life. It's a car that is elegant, purposeful and fun to drive. You can barely ask for anything extra when it comes to a classy cruiser like this.