Road test: Mercedes-Benz SL 350
What is it?
It's the entry-level version of the brand new sixth-generation SL, powered by a 3.5-litre V6 rather than the more expensive and potent V8 and V12 units further up the range. Having said that, it still costs £72,495 and offers the thrills and luxuries SL buyers come to expect from this classic GT car.
What's under the bonnet?
An entirely new 3.5-litre V6. Unlike the raw power and brawn of the other V8 and V12 engines, the V6 offers buckets of creamy smoothness and more than ample shove. Thanks to 302bhp, the 3,498cc V6 gets the 1,685kg SL to 60mph in 5.7 seconds. And like the SL 500 and SL 63 AMG V8s and V12-engined SL 65 AMG, the SL 350 is limited to 155mph. Combined MPG is 37.7; CO2 emissions are an impressive 176g/km.
What's the kit like?
More than satisfactory – but that's what you expect from a car costing this much. Standard spec includes 18-inch alloys, climate control, cruise control, leather and more. Our test car had a whopping £13k-worth of options, with highlights being the larger £105 75-litre fuel tank; £265 reversing camera; comfort ventilated seats at £745; £575 Airscarf neck-level heating and the £1,150 Harman Kardon surround sound system. We would probably avoid the £2,610 Magic Sky Control panoramic vario-roof – it's a nice idea in St. Tropez but not in Preston.
There are quite a few. Traditional rivals include the new BMW 6 Series and the Jaguar XK, among others. Although we adore the Brit, the SL does make more sense in terms of ownership costs, while the Stuttgart Merc trounces the Munich BMW in the style stakes.
Is it any good?
The SL is a grand tourer in the best tradition – it's good for wafting, posing, blasting through countries, but less good at the race track. The steering is a little light and the brake pedal lacks a bit in feel, but the throttle response is spot-on and the seven-speed 'box is quick to change gear in all modes (eco, manual, sport). One major surprise was the really rather excellent ride quality – even on our car's 19-inch wheels – and the aural pleasure the singing V6 gives.
The AOL Cars verdict
Certain people may look down their nose at the entry-level V6 deeming it to be under-powered and a little limp-wristed. But it certainly isn't – in fact, the V6 is probably the pick of the range for very good reason offering decent power and acceptable running costs. The new SL once again builds upon its reputation as the default choice in this sector for those looking for style, power and quality. Some may say it's too bling, but we thing the new SL is good-looking in an aggressive, athletic way. Like V6 SLs of old? You'll love this one.
Model: Mercedes-Benz SL 350
Price: £85,645 (as tested)
Engine: 3.5-litre, V6 petrol
Power: 302bhp, 370Nm
Max speed: 155mph
MPG (comb'd): 37.7