Cars, and the way people use cars, have changed significantly since the introduction of the Mercedes SL-class in 1954.  Between the 1989 560SL and the 2009 Sl63 there has been 20 years of research and development, and a lot has changed.  Obviously, the body style and components completely changed with each iteration, but more importantly, has the way the car drives and feels completely changed as well?

1989 560SL:

Weight: 3,704 lbs.

Engine: 5.0 liter V8

Power: 227 hp & 279 lbs. ft. of torque


Transmission: 4 speed auto

2 Seater

2009 SL63:

Weight: 4,274 lbs.

Engine: 6.2 liter V8

Power: 518 hp & 465 lbs. ft. of torque


Transmission: 7 speed auto

2 Seater

Performance wise, the SL63 is a completely different animal than the 560SL.  Both of these cars are powered by V8’s, so neither lack power (especially the SL63).  However, the humongous 6.2 liter V8 rockets the SL63 from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, compared to the 7.3 seconds it takes in the 560SL.  The SL63 handles significantly better than the 560SL, there is very little body roll and it gives you the illusion that you are gliding around each corner.  However, by no means am I saying that the 560 handles poorly.  It is actually one of the most comfortable classic car I’ve ever driven and it never felt unstable or floaty while behind its wheel. Although the new SL63 out performs the 560SL in every way, the 560SL’s vintage charm makes it equally as enjoyable to cruise around in in it’s own way.

The interiors in both of the cars have a luxurious and high quality feel, even though they appear to be outdated compared to newer Audi’s and BMW’s.  The 560SL’s interior is a lot simpler, with only a radio and basic climate control.  The SL63, on the other hand, has all sorts of buttons and knobs allowing you to select different driving modes, Bluetooth Connection, and the like. Clearly, the 560SL is far less distracting, making it a very easy going, relaxing car to cruise around in.  Each of the cars’ seats have enough bolstering to keep you in place on even the most aggressive corners, and they are still more comfortable than most other sports cars.

Over the 20 years that separate these two cars there has been huge improvements in performance, quality, and technology.  However, they still have the same quality feel that Mercedes is known for.  After driving the 560SL and the SL63 back-to-back it’s an obvious take-away that the SL63 is a continuation of the legendary SL-class that first met the road back in 1954.  With a number of updates and new platforms, the engineers at Mercedes have managed to keep the same feel, and consistent driving enjoyment, while only enhancing it through larger and more volatile engines.