Mercedes-Benz SL Convertible 1989 - 2002

Mercedes-Benz SL Convertible 1989 - 2002

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Superb build quality
  • A true luxury sports car


  • The SLK is prettier
  • Expensive to run


The Mercedes Benz SL is known for its elite comfort and being the ultimate soft-top touring car. It is a comfortable, quick and well-built car. It has sculptured looks thanks to its sloping nose and stylish paneling giving you everything you want in a luxury sports car.

Exterior and Interior

The SL was designed to be the ultimate soft top and in its day, and it achieved this. With its sculpted looks and luxurious interior the SL is everything you would want from a luxury sports car. The SL is a four seater but like most other convertibles, only children will find the backseat comfortable. The boot space is not huge, but it does compare well to rivals with its 265-litres of space. Most features in the car are fully adjustable so you can find the perfect driving position which is made even easier with most of them being electrically operated. The interior is pure luxury with leather covered steering wheel and gearstick, heated front seats and wood paneling on the dash and doors. The electric soft top roof is easy to use and goes up and down quickly and doesn't take up much of the boot space either. Different options came as standard the longer the SL was in production, so buying a more recent vehicle will prove beneficial as these will come with a CD multichanger, climate control, electronic stability program and heated front seats.

Performance and Economy

The most popular engine is the SL320 as it has more than enough power getting you from 0-60mph in just over seven seconds. The SL280 isn't exactly underpowered, but it doesn't really captivate you as well as the other engines. The SL280 will manage 25mpg, which is only marginally better than the SL320 that will manage 24mpg. The SL500 V8 engine is a blast to drive on the open road as they fly along without ever really exerting themselves. The fuel efficiency also isn't far behind that of the SL320 at 22mpg. The SL600 V12 is simply excessive though as you are never likely to need anywhere near the amount of power it produces. No matter which engine you choose the insurance will be costly with all of them falling into category 20.

Like to Drive

The SL is wonderful to drive with superb handling and loads of grip even in the corners thanks to its low slung and heavy body. The V12 engine version does affect the steering with corners proving a real handful when travelling at speed. You will need immense concentration levels leaving you exhausted by the time you get to your destination. When sitting in the drivers' seat everything seems to be in the right place and the driving position is extremely comfortable. The SL comes with the several customized driving positions which can be changed between at the switch of a button altering the front seat, steering column and mirrors to that drivers preferences.

Faults and Repairs

There have been multiple problems occurring on the SL with the most significant being with the automatic gearbox jumping out of gear for no apparent reason. This will cost several thousand pounds to be repaired. The other was with airbags being unintentionally deployed, but this should have been repaired in a call back in 2001. Other problems include electrical faults and rust around the base of the soft top. As with all Mercedes the repair and services costs will be high with only jaguar being more costly.