By Staff Writer
The most comfortable ‘everyday’ sports car we have encountered
Mercedes-Benz's slogan is "The best or nothing." If you’re looking for the world’s best sports car, the SL400 is not it. If you’re looking for the best ‘everyday’ sports car, the SL400 is the best we have come across.
We find what Mercedes-Benz does best is retain its signature classic look in every model – and the 2016 Mercedes SL ‘Super Light’ 400 is no exception.
The dynamic coupe stays true to its name as it features an all-aluminium bodyshell which makes it around 110kgs less than if it had been produced using steel technology.
While the car feels steady and grounded on roads and turns, it is lighter than a handful of sports cars we have experienced. Its steering is wonderfully light and easy to control for a roadster of its calibre. We found is surprisingly relaxing and comfortable to drive - largely thanks to improved furnishing.
While the SL 400 has shockingly rapid acceleration (4.9s at 0-100km/h), it could just as easily be driven at lower speeds for everyday use. Yet practical as it may be, it is not for the faint-hearted.
With a top speed of 250 km/h, it is loud, fast and wildly entertaining. If you’re not concerned about your fuel consumption (a bit high at 7.7 at 1/100km), go full-throttle when you get the chance. It may not be the fastest SL in the range, but it is powered by an impressive 362bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine with a nine-speed automatic gearbox which results in a truly amusing ride.
But enough about the drive. Now let us talk design. We opted for a model with an eye-catching solar red shade for the exterior paired it with an all-black sleek interior. The latter was - as expected by Mercedes - lavishly created with oh-so-comfortable sports seats in nappa leather with optimised lateral support and model-specific upholstery layout, multi-contour function and seat heating.
You would be surprised how many luxury sport car brands lack some of those qualities. Mercedes definitely set the standards high for us. Another nice touch is carbon-fibre trim and an analogue clock in IWC design.
As of its exterior, the SL 400 has a new accentuated, drawn-out bonnet for a more athletic look as well as a revised front end featuring the signature diamond radiator grille – this time extending downwards – giving it an edgier appearance. Still, our favourite change is the sharp new headlamps extending to the outside.
Subtle changes include the enlarged cosmetic air outlets with wing-like chrome inserts in the wings, emphasising the sporty theme all the more.
Considering its price starts at $99,300, we find the cheapest SL in the range worthy of its price tag.