In a segment where it’s all about being seen, buying last year’s model is a major faux pas. So with a brand new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL Class just unveiled, we’d only recommend you buy the outgoing 2012 model if you’re getting a really good deal.
Having said that, the 2012 SL Class is still every bit as lovely and talented as when it made its debut almost a decade ago. Yes, the SL has a timeless design that will likely ensure it turns heads even well into the next model’s run.
You’ll also never get tired of the SL’s engine lineup, which for 2012 has been pruned to just two V-8 options. The base model is the SL 550, which comes with a naturally-aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 rated at 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque.
Our pick, however, is SL63 AMG model, which comes with a naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 that’s hand-built and rated at 465 horsepower and 518 pound-feet of torque.
Either will get you to 60 mph in around 5.0 seconds without breaking a sweat, but the bark of the engine in the AMG model has an old-school V-8 sound that’s hard to find these days. Oh, and anything you drive with an AMG badge on it also automatically gives you street cred in spades.
Once you’re done doing your best impersonation of Michael Schumacher, it’s time to drop the top and enjoy another aspect of the SL Class. At the push of a button, the car’s retractable hardtop can be fully opened or closed in just 16 seconds, transforming it from a quiet, weather-tight coupe to a top-down, open-air convertible.
The roof’s folding "clamshell" design allows for a cargo area of 7.2 cubic feet when the top is down. With the top up, the trunk holds 10.2 cubic feet, which is a little on the small side but completely reasonable for a two-seater convertible.
One of the cool features of the SL is its AIRSCARF warming system. It essentially blows warm air around your neck, allowing you to drive comfortably with the top down even in the cooler months--anything that adds a few days or weeks to summer is an inspiration all its own. The car also gets Mercedes’ COMAND interface system, a 6.5-inch color display screen, a hard-drive-based GPS nav system, and a multi-function steering wheel.
For a closer look at the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL Class, including info on its styling, performance, quality, and safety, check out the full review on our sister site The Car Connection.