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2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400 Roadster Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Mercedes-Benz, Test Drives

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I don’t always dress to impress. I tend to prefer casual attire throughout the week and even during the times I attend a business meeting. It’s just my style and most people completely understand it. It is only on rare occasions I take a few extra minutes to pick out an outfit that makes me feel accomplished; selecting a sports jacket and maybe some slacks. During those rare times it is assuring to have a vehicle that coordinates with my outwardly dressed-up appearance. I can say, Mercedes-Benz has a custom tailored suit on 4-wheels in the form of the SL Roadster, a vehicle that has classic roots and continues to push the luxury drop-top roster further with its exclusive design and plush appeal.

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In my latest test drive endeavors I had the chance to check out the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400, a roaster with a rich flavor but a slight economical sense without compromise in its twin-turbo V6 engine. Taking in the SL’s latest design, introduced as a 2013 model, it brought me to a familiar place to expect the latest offering to be among the best of mainstream German engineering.

See Also: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster Review

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400 is a new entrant to the SL line, bringing a lower price point with its twin-turbo V6 engine. Even though the SL400 has less power, it has added efficiency when compared to the force-fed V8-powered SL550. In this, the SL400 still retains a long list of options and styling attributes that make the SL the desirable luxury roadster that it is.

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The current automotive industry has many newfound firsts, and for Mercedes-Benz the latest change happens to be a V6 under the long sculpted aluminum hood of the SL. As the SL400’s nomenclature signifies, it is slated below the SL550 but not much is given away to its lower number in terms of luxury appointments, performance, and overall appeal. The SL400 features Mercedes-Benz’ Biturbo V6 with 329 horsepower and a healthy 354 lb-ft of torque, sending power to the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission.

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Performance is aggressive in the twin-turbo V6’s ability to quickly spin up while the purposely designed roadster chassis of the SL400 plays along nicely. The overall balance of the SL400 is good, although it does take a decent amount of time to get used to the quick variable ratio steering rack. The steering is quick, almost to the point of misjudging turn-ins; it only takes one full turn either way for a full lock. The steering effort, somewhat soft in the default eco mode, doesn’t help matters much.

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Thanks to the SL400’s wide-patched 285/30/19-inch tires out back (255/35R19 fronts), the rear end doesn’t wag much. Though, the advanced stability control and management doesn’t allow much slip to begin with. In all, the SL400 is well planted on the road and nearly as solid as a comparable hard-top coupe.

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Acceleration is strong and gearshifts are snappy, nearing the territory of a dual-clutch unit. In sport mode you can expect the SL400 to reach 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. The default eco mode, one of three driving modes, puts things in motion with 2nd gear starts. Sport mode starts you off in first gear and tends to hold gears much longer than you would want unless you were on a track – but who is going to put the SL400 on a track? – okay, maybe once. The adaptive dampers, with a sport or comfort mode, did their job to keep a compliant ride and limit to body roll. Either setting sufficed to keep the ride smooth with only subtle differences in the two.

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Mercedes-Benz offers a plush interior, impeccable fit and finish is the forte of the SL400’s cabin. Within the vast lineup of Benz vehicles, the SL400 sets its traditional cabin and dashboard layout in the full mix without much of a differentiation, which can be a good thing for avid Mercedes fans. I guess you can say, “if it aint broke don’t fix it.” To my perception, it seems Mercedes-Benz has taken the design of its dashboard and cabins and placed it in every model without many filters. Still, it works to the benefit of the SL400’s unique hard-top convertible sport-luxury mixed character.

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The two perforated Nappa Leather seats offer 12-way adjustments, heating, ventilation, massage, active dynamic bolsters (part of the active multicountour seats), a highly-adjustable lumbar support, and a heated scarf system for those cold nights when you let the power top down. No doubt that you feel like the pampered guest when you are seated deep into the plush seats of the SL400 featuring the optional Designo Graphite package. Also part of the package, is a nice array of black ash wood trim nicely accenting the light-colored seats and plentiful leather trim.

Infotainment controls are as expected in the long-touted Mercedes-Benz COMAND system with navigation fed through a centralized rotary toggle and high-resolution color LCD screen. The system is simplistic enough with its own short learning curve, which you can easily get accustomed to after some practice. The centralized gauge cluster LCD information screen with vehicle settings are accessed through steering wheel controls. The dual-zone climate controls, adjusted in 2-degree increments, are also part of the simplistic theme of the SL400’s cabin and controls, much like most other Benz vehicles.

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Mercedes-Benz has always prided themselves with their convertibles and the SL400 is nothing short of that engineering feat. The hardtop folds away in a short 21 seconds and closes nearly as fast. While the top is up, the optional Magic Sky Control sunroof is there to let in extra light or limit the rays at the touch of a button that dims the patented SPD-SmartGlass. I thought the Magic Sky Control roof was only useful when it rained, it kept you dry but still let me take in abundant amounts of vitamin D – sans the wind in my absent hair.

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The Mercedes-Benz SL400 offers another option in the SL line where it may be attainable for those conscience of spending much above 6-figures on a luxury vehicle. With the starting price of $84,000, the SL400 is an attractive purchase to a wider spectrum over the initial SL550 offering, especially considering it is nearly $23,000 less than its larger engine sibling. Getting into a new Benz SL has never been so economical, which is a funny thing to say. Though, I would beg the SL400 to be a desirable choice if you are conscience about where you spend our hard earned money. The SL400 offers nearly everything you have in the SL550 only sacrificing a short list of options and some power – but gaining some fuel efficiency in the process getting an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

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However, it would be mindful to know that loading up a new SL400 will enter into the territory of a SL550’s base price with my test vehicle having an as-tested price of $105,425. Mind you, at this price there is nothing spared – there are several desirable options as part of this lavish package, including Night View Assist Plus (Night vision), Magic Sky Control, Wood/Leather Steering Wheel, 19-inch multispoke wheels, Designo Graphite Package (nappa leather, black ash wood trim), Premium Package (review camera, parktronic w/active parking assist, active ventilated seats, active multicountour seats with massage, airscarf, keyless-go w/handsfree access and electronic truck closer), and Driver Assistance Package (distronic plus w/pre-safe brake, active lake keeping assist, and active blind spot assist). Benz has done their homework to draw a larger crowd to their SL class and have scored a decent grade with the new SL400.

Copyright: 2015 AutomotiveAddicts.com

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base SL400 $84,000 /$105,425 as tested including destination and delivery charges
  • Engine: 3.0 liter Direct Injected Twin Turbocharged V6 – 329 horsepower @ 5,250 rpm / 354 ft-lbs. @ 1,600 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 101.8 in.
  • Total length: 181.6 in.
  • Total width: 73.9 in.
  • Total height: 51.8 in.
  • Track: f/r-62.9/63 in.
  • Headroom: 39.1 in.
  • Legroom: 42.9 in.
  • Cargo volume: 13.5-top up/8.5 cu.ft. top down
  • Turning circle: 36.2 ft.
  • Fuel tank: 19.8 gallons
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
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