Launched for the 2012 model year, the sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL represented a revolution over its predecessor, having its body made almost entirely from aluminum. As a result, it was 242 pounds lighter than the previous model, on top of having a sportier design and more powerful engines. At the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, Mercedes introduced a facelift for the roadster, which covered both the standard and the AMG-badged models. Set to go on sale for the 2017 model year in the U.S., the two-seater will cross the pond in both SL63 and SL65 guises.

In this review, I will focus on the range-topping SL65 to see what makes it stand out compared to both the non-AMG and the SL63 versions.

Much like all revised or redesigned AMG models, the SL65 (and the SL63 for that matter) will go on sale under different names. Previously known as the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG, the roadster will be marketed as the Mercedes-AMG SL65. The new naming scheme debuted with the Mercedes-AMG GT and will be used for all AMG-badged Mercs from now on.

As with most AMG facelifts, the SL65 received an updated exterior and interior and will continue to use the massive V-12 powerplant that made the previous model one of the most aggressive roadsters on the market. Keep reading to find out what changes for 2017.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Mercedes-AMG SL 65.

  • 2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V12
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    621 @ 5500
  • Torque @ RPM:
    738 @ 2300
  • Displacement:
    6.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    3.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph
  • Price:
    218000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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Naturally, the SL65 has received similar upgrades to the standard SL, but with the familiar AMG-spec body parts that make it significantly more aggressive on the road. While the headlamps, the front grille, and the bumper are are identical as far as shape and size go, the SL65’s front fascia sports a number of features that makes it stand out as the brawniest member of the SL-Class family.

Add-ons include a newly designed, twin-blade radiator grille that's wider at the bottom, chrome inserts on the upper edge of the air intakes, a bumper grille with horizontal slats

Add-ons include a newly designed, twin-blade radiator grille that’s wider at the bottom, chrome inserts on the upper edge of the air intakes, a bumper grille with horizontal slats, and a front splitter for enhanced aerodynamics. The engine hood and the front fenders remains unchanged except for the "V-12 Biturbo" badges between the front wheels and the doors and the high-gloss chrome inserts in the side skirts. The only other notable change to the car’s profile are the 10-spoke light-alloy wheels painted in Titanium Grey with a high-sheen finish. The rollers measure 19 inches at the front and 20 inches to the rear.

Around back, the SL65 is distinguished by all-red taillights, a trunk lid spoiler, and the quad-exhaust configuration. The diffuser is also slightly different than non-AMG models, featuring chrome inserts between and underneath the exhaust pipes. Much like the ones in the side skirts, the SL65’s is high-gloss chrome, while the SL63’s is silver chrome.

Interior

On the inside, the facelift brings only minor updates. The standard sports seats in Nappa leather feature optimized lateral support, while the three-spoke steering wheels, also swathed in Nappa leather, has a mildly revised button configuration. Standard features also include carbon-fiber trim and the analogue clock atop the center stack. From the options list, customers will be able to order an AMG Performance steering wheel with Dinamica inserts for additional grip and AMG carbon-grain aluminum trim.

Drivetrain

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Drivetrain
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Though it received numerous upgrades inside and out, the SL65 uses the same 6.0-liter V-12 engine as the model it replaces. There’s no need to be disappointed though, as the V-12 is good for 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, which converts to 0-to-60 mph sprints of only 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.

V-12 is good for 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, which converts to 0-to-60 mph sprints of only 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph.

While the non-AMG models received the brand’s new nine-speed automatic transmission, the SL65 continues with a mildly improved version of the previous seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Mercedes says that the transmission is now even more responsive, especially in "Sport Plus" and manual mode due to optimized engine and gearbox software. Also, the new aluminum shift paddles transmit the driver’s commands to change the gear even faster, improving both feel and dynamics.

The SL65 is equipped with a mechanical rear-axle differential lock as standard, which provides enhanced stability when braking from high speeds and better traction when accelerating fast from a standing starts.

There are five driving modes available — "Comfort," "Sport," "Sport Plus," "Individual," and "Race." Each of them modify parameters such as throttle response and engine sound, offering a different experience behind the wheel. As you might have already guessed, "Race" mode turns the SL65 into an aggressive beast, while "Comfort" mode provides a more comfortable experience with early gear changes.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine/cylinders V-12 Biturbo
Displacement 6.0-liter
Output 621 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Peak torque 738 LB-FT @ 2,300-4,300 RPM
Acceleration 0-60mph 3.9 s
Top speed 186 MPH

Safety

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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Much like the non-AMG SL, SL65 has an array of active and passive safety systems designed to keep the two occupants protected. Standard and options features include Active Brake Assist, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Pre-Safe and Pre-Safe Plus systems, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Rearview camera, Parktronic with Active Parking Assist, and pop-up roll bars.

Prices

Pricing has yet to be announced, but the facelifted SL65 shouldn’t be a lot more expensive than the model it replaces. The current version retails from $217,550, which makes it one of the most expensive Mercs in dealerships.

Competition

Porsche 911 Turbo

2017 Porsche 911 Turbo
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The 911 Turbo may sport a different drivetrain configuration and more aggressive styling compared to the SL65, but if you’re looking for quick sprints and high speeds, the Porsche is a sports car you need to consider. While the turbocharged, 3.8-liter flat-six might not be as powerful as Merc’s V-12 at 520 horsepower in the Turbo and 560 in the Turbo S, the 911 is significantly quicker from 0 to 60 mph. The Turbo needs only 3.2 seconds to hit the benchmark, while the Turbo S will get you there in 2.9 ticks. Top speed is equally impressive at 195 and 197, respectively. Though it’s not as stylish as the SL65, the 911 Turbo is significantly more affordable. The Turbo starts from $151,100, while the Turbo S retails from $182,700.

Find out more about the Porsche 911 Turbo here.

Jaguar F-Type R

2017 Jaguar F-Type High Resolution Exterior
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When it comes to full-fledged two-seats, the F-Type R is has everything it needs to compete against the SL65. The most powerful F-Type in production, the R comes with a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 that cranks out 550 horses and 502 pound-feet of torque. Available in both coupe and convertible body styles, it needs less than four seconds to hit 60 mph, with the AWD version hitting the benchmark in as quick as 3.5 seconds. On the inside, it’s a bit cramped and not as nice as the SL65, but the $103,600 and $106,450 sticker for the coupe and convertible, respectively, makes it a worthy proposition.

Read more about the Jaguar F-Type R here.

BMW M6

2013 BMW M6 Convertible High Resolution Exterior
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Arguably one of the most affordable high-performance two-door, the BMW M6 is also the slowest. Powered by a twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 rated at 560 horsepower and 501 pound-feet of torque, the M6 is nowhere near as quick as the SL65, needing 4.2 seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start. For the convertible model, the benchmark drops to 4.3 ticks. Top speed is also inferior at 155 mph. More power can be had with the Competition Package, which adds an extra 15 horses to the output and shaves a tenth-second off the 0-to-60 mph time. Pricing starts from $113,400 for the coupe and $119,700 for the convertible.

Find out more about the BMW M6 here.

Conclusion

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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Although it doesn’t bring significant improvements in the drivetrain department, the 2017 facelift makes the SL65 a more aggressive car to look at, which is what many enthusiasts have been asking for ever since the current model arrived in 2012. But, while adding more power and torque wouldn’t have made much sense given it already packs 621 horses and a whopping 738 pound-feet of twist, maybe Mercedes could’ve done something about its weight in order to make it quicker and more nimble. While I’m well aware that the SL65 is more of a two-seat grand tourer rather than a full-fledged sports car, I still think Stuttgart needs to ditch more weight in order to make it a bit more competitive with the likes of the Jaguar F-Type. But, that will probably happen when the next generation arrives. Meanwhile, the SL65 remains a luxurious and sporty vehicle that’s suited for both spirited driving and cruising, but with a somewhat ludicrous sticker.

  • Leave it
    • * Very expensive
    • * Significantly slower than the 911 Turbo

Press Release

Mercedes-AMG is further enhancing its SL63 and SL65 high-performance roadsters with updated technology and expressive design. The front-end features a completely new design, with a radiator grille which broadens out towards the bottom and the A-wing front spoiler. The stylish light signature and the highly comprehensive scope of standard equipment and appointments underscore the high-quality impression. The engines set the benchmark in the high-performance roadster segment: the 5.5-liter V8 Biturbo engine equipped on the SL63 generates an output of 577 hp and peak torque of 664 lb-ft. The SL65 is powered by a 6.0-liter V12 Biturbo engine rated at 621 hp and delivering 738 lb-ft of peak torque.

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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Outstanding performance, impressive driving characteristics and the expressive, stylishly honed design are hallmarks of the new Mercedes-AMG SL63 and Mercedes-AMG SL65. The technical highlights include the AMG-developed sports suspension based on Active Body Control, the rear-axle differential lock which is now standard, the even more responsive AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission (SL63) and the five updated AMG DYNAMIC SELECT driving programs.

"Our updated SL63 and SL65 high-performance roadsters offer a unique driving experience, combining hallmark AMG ‘Driving Performance’ with the pleasures of open-air motoring and superior comfort on long journeys,” notes Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. The SL63 and SL65 will have their world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show; the U.S. market launch will begin in late spring 2016.

Both roadsters offer more power and torque than their respective competitors in this segment. These engines result in high-caliber performance, as illustrated by figures for acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 and 3.9 seconds for the SL63 and SL65 respectively. The top speed is 186mph (electronically limited).

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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The powerhouses incorporate numerous high-tech components for high power output combined with low fuel consumption: in addition to spray-guided Piezo direct fuel injection, further features include an all-aluminum crankcase, twin turbocharging, four valves per cylinder with camshaft adjustment and an air/water intercooler. The AMG sport exhaust system provides a striking engine sound with an individual character. Enlarged radiators in the front and special vents in the hood add an aggressive appearance for the AMG variants and feed the intercoolers with air to ensure the required heat balance for the engines.

Performance is also boosted by the sports suspension based on Active Body Control, the AMG high-performance composite brake system (and optional AMG high performance composite ceramic braking system) and the redeveloped AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission (AMG SL63) or AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC (AMG SL65).

The intelligent lightweight design is also a major contributing factor to the high driving dynamics. On the SL models the light all-aluminum bodyshell provides the basis for high rigidity, safety and comfort combined with the lowest possible weight. The designers have used the even lighter material magnesium for the panel behind the tank. The trunk lid contributes to a further reduction in weight. The interior support consists of a light carbon-fiber composite material. The extremely rigid carbon-fiber component benefits from AMG’s motorsport expertise and is bonded to the equally very light plastic outer shell. This results in weight savings of 11 pounds in comparison to a conventional trunk lid.

Sports suspension based on Active Body Control

The steering knuckles and spring links of the 4-link front axle and almost all the wheel control parts of the multi-link rear suspension are also produced in weight-optimized aluminum. The reduction in unsprung masses benefits not only agility, but also the response of the spring-damper elements.

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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Mercedes-AMG remains faithful to the Active Body Control (ABC) active spring and damper system. For even greater agility and high cornering speeds, the AMG SL models have more negative camber all round and fully revised, substantially stiffer elastokinematics. At the touch of a button, the optional Performance suspension (available for AMG SL63 only) offers an emphatically sporty characteristic with reduced roll angles and taut body damping at the touch of a button ("Sport") or a more comfort-oriented set-up for a high level of comfort on longer journeys ("Comfort").

In conjunction with the new electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering, the AMG roadsters offer agile cornering and clear feedback to the driver when the car is approaching its critical limits. The steering features a constant and more direct ratio and variable power assistance which adapts according to the selected suspension set-up. The standard scope of equipment also includes a 3-stage ESP® traction control system with a "SPORT Handling" mode for particularly ambitious drivers.

Even more responsive: AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission

The AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission on the AMG SL63 boasts tailor-made dynamics and high variability. Whether automatic or initiated by the driver using the steering wheel shift paddles, upshifts and downshifts are executed noticeably faster than on the previous model. Especially in "Sport Plus" and in manual mode, the transmission response is now even more prompt. This enhanced spontaneity was made possible by optimizing the engine and transmission software. Furthermore, the new aluminum shift paddles are now able to transmit the driver’s commands to change gears even faster. Overall the driving feel and dynamics have therefore been sharpened for the new model.

Optimum traction: rear-axle differential lock as standard

For improved traction and driving dynamics, the AMG SL63 and AMG SL65 are equipped with a mechanical rear-axle differential lock as standard. This reduces the slip on the inside wheel when cornering without any control intervention in the braking system, allowing the driver to accelerate out of corners earlier thanks to the improved traction offered by the differential. The car remains more stable when braking from high speeds, and the limited-slip differential also improves traction when accelerating fast from a standing start.

AMG DYNAMIC SELECT driving modes

The five different driving programs "Comfort," "Sport,” "Sport Plus," "Individual" and "RACE" provide the driver with a broad scope for influencing the characteristics of the SL63 and SL65. Numerous parameters can be modified, from throttle response to engine sound, enabling the utmost in individualization. In the "Comfort" program the driver experiences a gentle transmission characteristic with comfortable and early gear changes. In "C" mode the car always starts in second gear for a fluid start. In the other driving modes the engine and transmission demonstrate substantially greater agility, in addition to which gear changes are faster. On the SL63, an automatic double-declutching function when downshifting and the RACE START function also form part of the standard scope of the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission.

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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Expressive and distinctive: the exterior design

The striking design emphasizes the two high-performance roadsters’ self-assured character. The front section is totally new and markedly more expressive. It is characterized by the newly designed twin-blade radiator grille, which is now wider at the bottom. The A-wing front apron, the large cooling air intakes with flics as an additional means of guiding air flows and the front splitter emphasize the vehicle’s width. The newly designed hood combines design and function in the guise of classic powerdomes and the vents which are required for technical reasons.

The apron in a new diffuser look immediately catches the eye at the rear. All-red tail lights underscore the stylish character. The side skirts also feature a new design and incorporate different inserts according to the model concerned - in silver chrome on the SL63, while the SL65 is set apart by applications in
high-gloss chrome. The Night package is optionally available for the first time, adding darkened trim elements around the body for a more sinister appearance. The Exterior Carbon-Fiber package has been extended to include inserts in the rear apron and in the side skirts.

The SL63 leaves the factory with standard 10-spoke light-alloy wheels, painted in titanium grey and with a high-sheen finish, with a staggered fitment of 9 J x 19-inch wheels with 255/35 R 19 tires at the front and 10 J x 20-inch wheels with 285/30 R 20 tires at the rear. The SL65 is fitted as standard with multi-spoke ceramic polished forged wheels. The front wheels come in size 9 J x 19 and are fitted with 255/35 R 19 tires, while the rear wheels in size 10 J x 20 are fitted with 285/30 R 20 tires.

Class materials, comprehensive scope of standard appointments: the interior

The lavishly appointed interior covers every wish: the standard scope includes sports seats in Nappa leather with optimized lateral support and model-specific upholstery layout, multicontour function and seat heating. The driver has a good grip on the AMG SL at all times with the new 3-spoke Performance steering wheel in Nappa leather featuring a flattened bottom rim and silver-colored aluminum shift paddles. An AMG performance steering wheel is also offered with DINAMICA inserts for additional grip during performance driving. Carbon-fiber trim and the analogue clock in IWC design (exclusive to the AMG variants) highlight the high-performance roadster’s special standing. Optional AMG carbon-grain aluminum trim lends the open-top two-seaters an even more personal touch.

About Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz products in the United States. MBUSA offers drivers the most diverse line-up in the luxury segment with 14 model lines ranging from the sporty CLA-Class four-door coupe to the flagship S-Class.

2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 High Resolution Exterior
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MBUSA is also responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz Vans and smart products in the U.S. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found at www.mbusa.com, www.mbsprinterusa.com and www.smartusa.com.

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