2011 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Hardtop Convertible – “Perfection In Motion”

The new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL 6.3 AMG is indeed ‘perfection in motion’.  The SL 6.3 AMG is the most technologically advanced of all SL class models and is the perfect fit for high-performance driving with the finest in luxury and convenience features.  The SL is alone in its segment, only the Lexus SC430 gives some competition, but it hasn’t been updated since its introduction and the horsepower and performance figures are lacking.

Pure four-season comfortable driving abilities make the SL 6.3 AMG truly unique.  Just one touch of the console-mounted aluminum toggle and the top is up or down in a quick 16-seconds, transforming the car from a quiet, weather-tight coupe to a open-air roadster with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair, the epitome of driving sensations.

My test SL 6.3 AMG came with the optional sunroof feature.  Instead of a metal roof, you get tinted glass enabling you to still watch the sky with the top up.

Under the hood lies one of the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8s ever built, boasting a long list of exciting features derived from AMG’s highly successful racing efforts.  Built almost completely by hand from a high-strength silicon-aluminum alloy, the engine features four-valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, bucket-type cam followers (rather than rocker arms), and variable intake manifold.  Designed exclusively by AMG, the engine shares no parts with other Mercedes-Benz V8 engines.  The cylinder bores feature a twin-wire arc-sprayed (TWAS) coating, a new process that results in impressively low friction and running surfaces that are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinders.  Each engine is signed with its engine builder for all to see.  Awesome power ratings are 518hp at 6,800rpm and 465lb.ft. of torque 5,200rpm.  That’s plenty of power to launch the SL 6.3 AMG to 60mph from a standstill in just 4.5 seconds.  When you push the start button on top of the aluminum and leather wrapped stick the engine lights up with a might roar, similar to when you start a Ford Mustang GT.  It then settles down to a muffled roar as you take off.  I was surprised at the level of exhaust noise as you go up the gears, music to any enthusiast’s ears, and consider the sound more like a ‘hotrod’ dressed in velvet and fur.

All of the power and torque is transferred to the rear wheels through another AMG ‘exclusive’, the MCT with AMG Speedshift seven-speed automatic/sequential shifting transmission.  This new transmission is the best of both worlds, and provides direct feedback of a manual transmission with the total convenience of an automatic.  The new seven-speed MCT with AMG Speedshift is an all-new design available only in the new SL 6.3 AMG.

Featuring an innovative start-up clutch that replaces a conventional torque converter, the seven-speed MCT (multi-clutch technology), transmission combines the direct connection of a manual gearbox with the lightning-quick automatic gear shifts of a Formula 1 race car where the technology was transferred.  With four shift modes and a double-clutching function, the MCT transmission gives you very impressive versatility and even faster shift times.  It was perfect quickly downshifting into tight curves at high speed, then quickly upshifting coming out and wagging the tail when the ESP/Traction Control buttons were disabled.

At the heart of the new AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed transmission is a new start-up clutch, which runs in an oil bath and replaces a conventional torque converter.  Thanks to its low rotational mass, the start-up clutch helps the transmission respond instantaneously and dynamically with no slip.  Using the Speedshift function is awesome, fun and exciting with ultra-fast, spontaneous, multiple downshifts, another plus of the MCT sports transmission.  As an example, kickdown will shift you from seventh down to fourth gear or from fifth into second.  In the ‘S’ (Sport), ‘S+’ (Sport Plus), and ‘M’ (Manual) modes, an automatic double-clutching function is active.  Every manual for automatic downshift is accompanied by precisely metered double-clutching-from ‘S’ through ‘S+’, to ‘M’ incrementally.  Not only does double-clutching make the drive more fun and exciting but virtually load-free downshifting minimizing any jerking, a special benefit when braking into a steep curve.

I said that this new SL AMG 6.3 is a hotrod disguised in leather, carbon fiber, aluminum and chrome, and now comes with a Race Start feature, similar to other ultra-high-performing sports cars in the higher price bracket.  The new Race Start feature helps you maintain full-throttle acceleration and optimal traction during motorsports competition if you so choose, or when looking forward to your back being pinned to the seatback of the SL 6.3 AMG as you reach higher speed.

It’s very easy to operate.  After pushing the Race Start mode button on the center console, you step on the brake with your left foot and push the ESP Sport switch.  When confirmation appears in the central instrument panel, you just have to reconfirm Race Start by pulling the upshift paddle once, flooring the accelerator and releasing the brake.  Engine speed is set automatically, and the SL 6.3 AMG launches with full acceleration, a loud roar, as the wide, rear tires light-up with smoke coming from the Michelin 285/30ZR19in. Pilots giving the optimum in traction and grip, while 255/35ZR19in. Pilots lead the way up front.

A truly unique, AMG tuned fully independent suspension system glues you to the road.  Feedback is super quick, just like a formula 1 race car.  Every time I turned the wheel, the car instaneously turned.  The SL chassis uses a double-control-arm front suspension and a patented Mercedes-Benz five-link rear suspension.  All SL models come with Active Body Control (ABC), the Mercedes-Benz active suspension that virtually eliminates body roll when cornering, squat under acceleration and dive during braking.  The Active suspension solves the tradeoff between ride comfort and handling prowess, so SL roadsters offer excellent comfort and segment leading handling.  The SL 6.3 AMG rides with special struts with firmer damping and fully reworked systems such as the ABS, BA, Traction Control, and ESP stability control turn this SL into a fully-fledged sports car.  When driving the extra weight of the convertible was hardly noticed.  The car is built that well.  With the top up, the handling was even more dynamic.  Driving around slower moving street traffic the feel of the suspension working seemed nimble, easily getting around traffic.  On the straight-aways at triple-digit speeds, all was controlled and peaceful, the front and rear spoilers increasing downforce and enhancing stability.

The AMG tuned front suspension features a four-link double control arm setup with gas-charged shocks, coil springs in a series with the hydraulic cylinders.  The rear AMG turned suspension features a five-link setup also with gas-charged shocks, coil springs in a series with hydraulic cylinders.  These systems give you automatic level control, selectable ride height, with automatic lowering during high-speed driving.

Add to the mix an AMG tuned speed-sensitive rack & pinion with hydraulic power assist and you are sitting inside a true race car.  I could believe how well balanced the new car felt, and how fast it reacted to my inputs.  It is so responsive that I even warmed up the tires on less traveled road, first by pulling left and right, it reacted just like a racecar, then onto curving road outside of the city.  It’s 2.6 turns, lock-to-lock, gives superb quickness.

For high-speed driving I would recommend that the top be up to decrease the wind inside the car and increase the rigidity.  The car handles with cat like agility.

Excellent stopping power when you have to slow down and stop, are provided by large, power assisted, electro-hydraulic, ventilated, punched and slotted, steel disc brakes.  Up front are 14.2in. discs clamped with AMG six-piston calipers, and 13in. discs clamped with AMG four-piston calipers, in the rear.  The brakes were great, with a very linear feel whether braking hard or not, the system is perfect for taming the powerful AMG 6.3 and making the drive so enjoyable.  Fantastic!

The unique AMG styled body further sets this roadster apart from the crowd.  The car comes with special AMG body kit and exclusive AMG alloy wheels.  The new hood features twin power-domes, ending with a wider, single-bar grille that emphasizes the width of the body.  The muscular front bumper has larger air intakes that also house the round fog lamps that are ringed in chrome, and ’6.3 AMG’ fender badges.  Also from the side are the flared fenders stuffed with the 19in. wheels and tires, larger sideview mirrors that feature built-in arrow-shaped turn signals.  Steeply raked windshield pillars, and contoured side skirts carry the aggressive lines of the front bumper to the rear.  The rear gets a boost also with a new air diffuser in the bumper that adds a motorsports touch, as well as the trapezoidal exhaust tips that also emphasize the width and suggest all the power at your disposal.  Matching the front lower airdam is a lip spoiler mounted on the end of the trunk lid.

As far as power and performance goes, the new SL 6.3 AMG is up with the best luxury sports cars on the market.  It only gets better on the inside.

Center stage in the cockpit is a new-design, flat-bottomed, three-spoke, leather-wrapped, power tilt/telescoping, AMG steering wheel that just feels perfect in your hands and features large, aluminum paddle shifters.  Upshift on the right, downshift on the left.

The AMG designed instrument cluster is also new and features a 200mph speedometer, 8,000rpm tachometer, with eye-catching red tachometer and speedometer needles that swing to the max position and back to zero whenever the ignition is turned on.  The AMG designed, heated/ventilated, 12-way, power-adjustable, multi-contour, heated/ventilated,  leather sports seats are amazing to sit in, and are finished in a special cross piping.

Besides the perfect seated fit, the lower seat buttons feature adjustable side bolstering, (tightening/loosening), and a massage function to help keep you alert during those longer drives.

You are surrounded with real carbon fiber, aluminum and chrome trim pieces.  The dashboard, center console, upper windshield header, and door trim are covered in hand cut and sewn leather for that extra-ordinary luxury touch.  This is a luxury car and it shows inside with the exemplary workmanship, attention to detail and the use of the finest materials available.

All of the buttons, dials and levers are within easy reach and all are full illuminated for safe nighttime driving.  Thick-cut carpeting and soft floor mats ensure that you feet can also do some relaxing.

When you can’t wait to put the top down even though the temperature might be lower than you would like, the new SL 6.3 AMG is available with the AIRSCARF system that is an innovative feature that can extend open-top driving into the cooler months.  Another technological first from Mercedes-Benz, AIRSCARF is an extra heating system built into the driver and passenger seats.  At the touch of a door-mounted button, warm air flows from vents in the head restraints, acting as an invisible scarf around you head and neck.

Testing revealed that warming just a relatively small area around the neck dramatically improves comfort in cooler weather.  AIRSCARF uses a heating element made primarily of barium titanate, which heats up in a matter of seconds when electrical current is applied.  Its electrical resistance  jumps once it’s heated, reducing power use-engineers call this balance ‘Positive Temperature Coefficient’ or PTC.  The PTC heater is only a few inches in size, allowing it to hide inside the SL seatback.  Aluminum fins on the heater help transfer the heat to the air, and a small fan pushes the heated air through the vents in the head restraints.  Incredible.

Coming standard in the SL 6.3 AMG not mentioned above include aluminum AMG door entrance plates, 6.5in. full color, COMMAND screen with 40GB hard drive, Mercedes-Benz GPS navigation, HD Digital AM-FM-Weather Band, SIRIUS satellite radio with a 10-speaker Harman-Kardon LOGIC7 Surround-Sound system with Dolby Digital 5.1,

in-dash 6-disc DVD/CD changer, and an in-dash SK Memory Card reader, Bluetooth interface with hands-free calling, enhanced voice control for audio, telephone and navigation systems.  IPod/MP3 media interface in the center armrest, dual-zone automatic climate control, dual map lamps, lighted vanity mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, power-remote, heated/self-dimming sideview mirrors, electronic cruise control, power windows with front express up/down, door storage slots with expanded top dual-opening top, power door locks, variable-speed wipers and washers, and aluminum-faced foot pedals.

Widely acclaimed as one of the world’s safest convertibles, the SL 6.3 AMG provides sports car performance with all the built-in safety that’s expected from Mercedes-Benz.  Since an open car can leave it occupants vulnerable in a rollover, Mercedes engineers met the challenge with the industry’s first automatic roll bar.  The padded, leather-covered bar pops-up, licking in place in a third of a second if sensors detect an impending rollover, and it can be raised or lowered by a console switch.  Shoulder belts are integrated directly into the seats for greater occupant protection especially in rollovers.  The SL was also the first car with side airbags, which are part of a Supplemental Restraint system that includes dual front airbags and emergency tensioning retractors that tighten the belts in a collision.  More safety features include high-strength steel reinforced cabin with front and rear crumple zones, steel beams in each door, driver’s knee airbag, Bi-Xenon headlamps with active curve illumination, headlamp washer system, ABS, BA, EBD, anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer and a tire pressure warning system.

The price of admission is $139,050.00 for the base SL AMG 6.3, and my SL stickered for $147,675.00 and came with the following options-panorama sunroof, Premium Package with heated/ventilated seats, AIRSCARF, an electronic trunk opener/closer, and KEYLESS GO.  The destination charge is $875.00 and the GAS Guzzler tax is $2,600.00.  If you can afford it the new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL 6.3 AMG is the finest four-season, powerful and high-performing convertible roadster on the road.



Price: Base SL63 AMG $132,050 As-Tested $147,675
Type: Compact Convertible
Where Built: Germany
EPA Class: Two Seaters


Length: 180.8 in.
Width: 71.5 in.
Height: 51.1 in.
Wheel Base: 100.8 in.
Curb Weight: 4274 lbs.

Front Head Room: 37.7 in.
Front Hip Room: 56.9 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.9 in.
Luggage Capacity: 10.2 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 10 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 2

Performance Data

Engine Size: 6.2 liters
Number of Cylinders: 8
Engine Type: V8
Horsepower: 518 hp
Max Horsepower: 6800 rpm
Torque: 465 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 5200 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 36.2 ft.
0-60mph: 4.5 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 21.1 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 12 mpg / 19 mpg / 14 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 253.2 mi. / 400.9 mi. / 295.4 mi.