2008 Mercedes-Benz SL Class Photo
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On Performance
On Performance
Fine engine performance and a serene ride are slightly marred by the inconsistent brake feel and poor fuel economy on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.
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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

Face-flattening acceleration in AMG versions

Maintains optimal handling and a smooth ride at all times

Virtually no cowl shake with the top down

The various engines on the different trim levels of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class offer great acceleration, but fuel economy and some handling issues blemish the performance record of this 2008 Mercedes-Benz.

Each of the four models in the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class offers a different engine under the hood, but all are incredibly capable. Edmunds writes that "the base SL550 has a 5.5-liter V8 with 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque," while the "SL55 AMG has a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 with 510 hp and 531 lb-ft." For the two top trim levels, Edmunds adds that "the SL600 sports a twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V12 with the same 510 hp, but its 612 lb-ft make acceleration feel even more forceful" than in the SL55 AMG, while the ultra-exclusive "SL65 AMG has a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 that makes an astounding 604 hp and 738 lb-ft and is good for blasting the car from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds." Other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that reviewers love all of this Mercedes-Benz's 2008 engine choices, with Kelley Blue Book saying that the base "SL550's 5.5-liter V8 is the best choice for mere mortals, offering acceptable power at a good price." ConsumerGuide testers find that the "SL550 gathers speed rapidly" and "shows true authority above 40 mph," while the "SL600 is stronger still."

For 2008, Mercedes-Benz offers only one transmission option per model of the SL-Class, but that option varies depending on the type of SL-Class. Car and Driver writes that the Mercedes-Benz 2008 SL550 features a "seven-speed automatic transmission with manumatic override that is capable of gearshifts 30 percent quicker than before," while ForbesAutos reviewers note that "both AMGs and the SL600 come with a five-speed automatic transmission (also driver-adaptive and with a manual mode)." Reviews are mixed when it comes to the seven-speed automatic on Mercedes-Benz's 2008 SL550. While Cars.com appreciates that the transmission's "quick upshifts can save fuel and make for quieter operation, they sometimes leave the engine bogged down in too high of a gear," which led to occasions when the reviewer "pressed the pedal and nothing happened until [he] pushed it farther down." Other than that criticism, most reviews were positive, with Road & Track claiming that the shifts are "so smooth that they're almost easier heard (via the car's slightly rumblier exhaust) than felt."

With the standard seven-speed automatic that Cars.com says should help "save fuel," the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is anything but thrifty. While shelling out almost $100,000 for even the cheapest Mercedes-Benz 2008 SL-Class probably indicates that gas bills aren't a concern, EPA estimates that remain almost completely under 20 mpg across the lineup mean the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class will dent the wallet long after being driven off the lot. The EPA fuel economy estimates for the Mercedes-Benz's 2008 SL-Class lineup are 14/21 mpg for the base SL550, 12/17 mpg for the SL55 AMG, and 11/18 mpg for both of the V-12s in the SL600 and SL65 AMG.

While the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has the power and looks to make it a top-notch sportscar, driving this 2008 Mercedes-Benz lineup exposes a few weaknesses. Many reviewers, such as those at Edmunds, rave about the "excellent grip and the Active Body Control that almost eliminates body roll," but then counter that enthusiasm by noting "a curb weight of more than 4,200 pounds keeps any of the SL roadsters from feeling truly agile." Car and Driver agrees, marking the SL-Class down for "numb steering, hard-to-read brake-pedal feel, and a general sense of weightiness." However, despite a few complaints about the steering and brakes, the overall impression of the SL-Class was positive. Cars.com reviewers find "much to like about the roadster's ride quality" and praise the suspension, which "never lets the ride become harsh." This opinion is affirmed by ConsumerGuide, which writes "any SL displays a fine blend of firm control and astute bump absorption."


Fine engine performance and a serene ride are slightly marred by the inconsistent brake feel and poor fuel economy on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

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