How Fast is the Cheapest SL 450 at altitude?
Yesterday, TFL’s Roman Mica took the newest car in our garage to the track, a 2017 Mercedes-Benz SL 450, for our signature Mile-High 0-60 test. Even with a twin-turbo 6-cylinder power plant unleashing 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque through a 9-speed automatic, we know from experience that altitude adds about a second to turbo cars’ 0-60 times. Could the insanely great engineers at Mercedes-Benz have figured out how to beat the thin air? We find out.
According to Mercedes-Benz, this SL 450, the cheapest version at a base price of $86,000 ($108,385 as tested), clocks a strong 4.9-second 0-60 time at sea level. We’ll see. And to demonstrate our findings that today’s high-performance automatic transmissions and algorithms are programmed to deliver max acceleration in any mode — Comfort, Sport, Light Speed, whatever — Roman conducted the 0-60 test in Comfort mode, the SL’s top performance mode, Sport+ (there’s a Sport mode between them), and then in Sport+ using brake torquing to get the engine up to power before setting it loose.
The results were surprising. Not because the SL 450 was slower at altitude — we suspected it would be — but because of the differences in 0-60 times between the three modes. Watch the video and see for yourself.
And yes, Roman conducted these speed runs with the top down because the SL 450 is a beautiful convertible. Running it with the top down is how we’d drive the SL every chance we could if we owned it. And that’s how we tested it.