The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class returns mostly unchanged, save for the base model’s new 10-spoke wheel design. With its power-retractable hardtop, high-tech engineering, and stylish design, the sleek rear-drive SL-Class continues to uphold its reputation as an iconic luxury roadster.
The two-door, two-seat S-Class offers four models: the base SL550, the performance-oriented SL55 AMG, the luxurious SL600, and the ultra-powerful SL65 AMG. The SL550 contains a 5.5-liter V-8 engine; the SL55 AMG uses a smaller but more powerful 5.4-liter V-8; the SL600 houses a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-12; and the SL65 AMG gets a 6.0-liter V-12. When raised, the hardtop creates the insulation and appearance of a sporty coupe. Like its sedan sibling, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the SL-Class feels somewhat limited by its stabilizing but hefty weight. However, the roadster’s state-of-the-art air suspension and speedy acceleration compensate for the lack of sports car agility.
Body Styles: convertible
Engines: 5.5-liter V-8, 5.4-liter supercharged V-8, 5.5-liter V-12, 6.0-liter V-12
Transmissions: five-speed automatic, seven-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz SL550, Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz SL600, Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
For 2008, the base SL550 comes with a new 18-inch wheel design. 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class models upgraded with the available Trim Package now get Napa leather on the steering wheel and shift knob.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class takes on the appearance of a convertible roadster or sleek sport coupe depending on whether the power-retractable hardtop gets lowered or raised. Standard gear on the SL550 and SL600 includes 18-inch alloy wheels, performance tires, xenon headlamps, fog lights, variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a rear defogger. Upgrading to either of the AMG models adds 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, larger brakes, and a number of distinctive exterior details, while the S65 AMG alone adds a power-operated trunk and keyless ignition.
An AMG Sport Package updates the SL550 and SL600 with sporty styling cues, special 18-inch wheels, and high-performance tires. Both trims also offer a sunroof, run-flat tires, and parking assist sensors. The SL55 AMG can be outfitted with an AMG Performance Package, which comes with unique 19-inch wheels, Formula 1-style brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, a stiffer suspension, and the removal of a speed limiter. Without the limiter, the SL55 AMG can reach 186 mph.
The cabin of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class features an elegant fit and finish, furbished in upscale materials. SL550 and SL600 models offer a choice of walnut, black ash, or chestnut trims, while AMG versions come with carbon-fiber trim.
Standard features on the SL550 and SL600 include leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support and multiple heat settings, memory settings for three drivers, a leather tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a leather-trimmed shift knob, power locks, one-touch power windows, power heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, a reverse-tilt passenger-side mirror, retained accessory power, cruise control, remote trunk release, a universal remote transmitter, interior air filtration, dual-zone climate control, extended cabin heating, a compass, a trip computer, an external temperature display, a DVD-based navigation system, a COMAND multimedia interface, satellite radio, and an eight-speaker Bose surround-sound system with a CD player.
The SL600 adds Napa leather and a wood- and leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob, while AMG models get a special steering wheel with shift paddles. SL550 and SL600 trims can be upgraded with optional massaging seats and a hands-free phone system.
Performance & Handling
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class offers four high-powered engines. With a 5.5-liter V-8 producing 382 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque, the base SL550 already reaches 60 mph in five seconds. The SL55 AMG gets a 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 that provides 510 horses and 531 lb-ft. With its twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-12, the SL600 also boasts 510 hp but enjoys a torque rating of 612 lb-ft. For true sports car enthusiasts, the SL65 AMG comes fitted with a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 that pumps out 604 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, enough to push the SL65 to 60 mph in an astonishing 3.9 seconds. The SL550’s V-8 matches with a seven-speed automatic transmission, while all other models use a five-speed automatic.
The SL-Class’ acceleration seems all the more impressive when you consider the car’s weight. At more than 4200 pounds, SL-Class models lack the nimble maneuverability and responsive steering of smaller roadsters. However, an active air suspension and impressive grip contribute to controlled handling and a smooth ride.
All 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class models come standard with dual front side-mounted airbags with head protection chambers, a driver’s-side knee airbag, pop-up roll bars, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, emergency braking preparation, brake drying, and tire pressure monitoring.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz SL550: 14/21 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SL600: 11/18 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG: 11/18 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG: 12/17 mpg city/highway
- High-performance engines
- Impressive acceleration
- Sensuous styling
- Smooth ride
You Won't Like
- Heavy weight
- Extravagant price
- Complex controls
Luxury roadster upholds reputation for style, performance, and comfort.
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