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Geez! It's like a ghost town here on R231...not mention on the street!

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Old 06-15-2017, 12:09 PM
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Geez! It's like a ghost town here on R231...not mention on the street!

Every day, I check the R231 board to see what's going on. The answer is usually NOTHING!

Did you folks see the editorial by Eddie Alterman, editor of Road & Track Magazine, I believe in the May issue? His column was specifically dedicated to lambasting the R231. He lashes out at the design, the handling, performance and pretty much calls the legendary SL a has-been. He says sales are tanking and competition is beating the SL into the ground, I am paraphrasing.

By what appears to be a serious lack of interest on this board, coupled to my very rare sightings of 2017 FL models on the road, and despite my love for the R231, I'm beginning to think Mr. Alterman may have a point. The cars are not selling well and so many folks seem to consider them a ride for old folks. On the other hand, new 911 Targas & Cabriolets seem to be everywhere here in the OC, not to mention Bentley convertibles! Go figure.

I happen to think that this is due in some measure to the fact that Porsche & Bentley offer their customers the ability to customize their cars to an almost infinite degree, as opposed to MB which has had pretty much the same, old, worn out color choices for years. And, when you ask MB for ANYTHING out of the ordinary, they give you a one word response: "NEIN!"

With Porsche & Bentley, you can order a bare bones, pretty basic model--which is still pretty well equipped--or you can choose from seemingly hundreds of boxes to check that will run your pen out of ink. IMO, MB NEEDS to start thinking more along these lines. If a customer wants to order a $150K SL450 or a $200K S550, MB needs to figure out a way to take that customer's money--AND to make that customer HAPPY at the same time. This should go for all of the higher end MB models.

There. Now when someone checks out the R231 board today, there will be something new to read!
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Old 06-15-2017, 01:54 PM
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Though no similarities at all, the SL may go the way of the VW Beetle.
We have had two original and two New Beetles in the family and we're constantly amazed that VW took so much time to make changes asked for by the public.
Side mirrors set to cause a huge blinds spot to the front side of the car and tiny/ dinky
Cup holders in the oddest places. It's no wonder U.S. Sales dropped years ago.

Same goes with the SL. I will not take the time to list SL complaints on the forums but they are consistent and numerous. Mercedes arrogant attitude may well sink the SL.
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Old 06-15-2017, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Streamliner View Post
Every day, I check the R231 board to see what's going on. The answer is usually NOTHING!

Did you folks see the editorial by Eddie Alterman, editor of Road & Track Magazine, I believe in the May issue? His column was specifically dedicated to lambasting the R231. He lashes out at the design, the handling, performance and pretty much calls the legendary SL a has-been. He says sales are tanking and competition is beating the SL into the ground, I am paraphrasing.

By what appears to be a serious lack of interest on this board, coupled to my very rare sightings of 2017 FL models on the road, and despite my love for the R231, I'm beginning to think Mr. Alterman may have a point. The cars are not selling well and so many folks seem to consider them a ride for old folks. On the other hand, new 911 Targas & Cabriolets seem to be everywhere here in the OC, not to mention Bentley convertibles! Go figure.

I happen to think that this is due in some measure to the fact that Porsche & Bentley offer their customers the ability to customize their cars to an almost infinite degree, as opposed to MB which has had pretty much the same, old, worn out color choices for years. And, when you ask MB for ANYTHING out of the ordinary, they give you a one word response: "NEIN!"

With Porsche & Bentley, you can order a bare bones, pretty basic model--which is still pretty well equipped--or you can choose from seemingly hundreds of boxes to check that will run your pen out of ink. IMO, MB NEEDS to start thinking more along these lines. If a customer wants to order a $150K SL450 or a $200K S550, MB needs to figure out a way to take that customer's money--AND to make that customer HAPPY at the same time. This should go for all of the higher end MB models.

There. Now when someone checks out the R231 board today, there will be something new to read!
I think you are wrong on Porsche's and Bentley's. The majority of customers buy/lease these as-is. Speaking with a Bentley dealer, lots of their cars get picked just like a Mercedes, primarily off the lot.
Plus Bentley are dirt cheap to lease.

As for the SL, the R231 was a design failure in many aspects, but the demise of sales is reflected in all convertibles. That whole category is down by a significant margin. The main competitor is the luxury SUV of all things, not another sports car.

If you look at cars like the Corvette or Jag F-type (which sells at roughly the same level as the SL), convertibles account only for about 15%.
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Old 06-15-2017, 07:47 PM
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Ghost Town Blues

SL's are going by the wayside. GT / Luxury touring cars are now either sedans, or as noted, SUV's. Personal luxury touring cars are just that, a luxury item. Most folks have to have a vehicle that fills multiple demands, and a two seat, drop top, GT is just not one of the choices that they have in mind.

I have been sidelined with some surgery, which has kept me from behind the wheel, but today had my neighbor come over and take me for a drive down the Natchez Trace with the top down on the SL. He has a Porsche Boxster, a 2013 S model. His first comments upon driving the SL were: 'this is a big car'; 'this is a heavy car': 'it's not really a sports car'. From that point until we parked the SL in my garage, his comments changed dramatically: 'damn, this car is really powerful'; 'this thing has a lot of room'; 'I get the idea, not a track car, but a legit grand tourismo'; 'what did you pay for this?'.

His comments are not unlike those of others who gravitate toward a performance image vehicle, like a Boxster, or 911, or an F type. But my question to those folks is 'when do you really get to drive your car? Do you track your car?'. And most of the 'Vette crowd and the Porsche crowd succumb to the same image draw of a 'performance' vehicle. Around here, Bentley is a ladies car, one that shows up in the parking lot at Publix.

The R231 has no exhaust note to speak of, hidden by the turbos; that diminishes some appeal. And the size and weight, well, it is about as light as you can make it. Throw in a posterior that looks like an elephants ****, and a front end that is really begging for some design work, and you really lose a lot of 'curb' appeal. But get behind the wheel, and drive it? A most competent vehicle. We drove 650i convertibles, 911's, Corvettes, and ended up with the SL, even though it did not pass our initial 'look at that car' test.

Back to the SL. The R231, for all of it's shortcomings is a throwback vehicle, one that represents what MB believes is representative of it's best designs in a package that can address what a small group of buyers would want; not totally performance, not totally luxury, not total exclusivity, but a blend of all of that. And for years that formula worked as previous generation SL's had good sales and long model lives. But the world has changed, and soon the SL will join that change with the modular platform. The current model is caught in something of a black hole between audience demands. Not fully a sports car, and not fully a lux-o-mobile. THat to me is the dichotomy of the SL.

I enjoy the R231 as much as any vehicle that I have owned, and will likely keep it as it does what my bride and I want it to do; provide us with a top down, solid driving experience for weekend jaunts. And when you put the top up, you have a very solid coupe. It's what a lot of cars would like to be when they grow up.

Here is the link to the article noted by SL: http://www.caranddriver.com/columns/...-sl-man-column

And then a link to an article in the WSJ focused on the SL450: https://www.wsj.com/articles/mercede...wer-1458838004

Sorry to rail on, but now you have something else to read. Thanks for starting the conversation.

Last edited by TennesseeZ4; 06-15-2017 at 10:04 PM. Reason: Include C&D Article: include WSJ article
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:05 PM
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I like the SL550 a lot I did Weistec mods (ECU, spark plugs, air filters) and RennTech mufflers on mine and it has made it a lot better; I really don't want to sell or trade my car but my friend keeps bugging me to get a track car so probably sometime next year I will trade for an AMG GTS. If I don't track the GTS very much or it's too bumpy on regular roads I can always trade it for another SL - maybe a 63 or even a 65. This is definitely a niche car and mostly only driven by old people - my buddy just bought an SL450 for his wife and always tells me that my car is an old lady car.
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Old 06-22-2017, 01:46 PM
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I tracked for 25 years: Formula Ford, Spec Racer, ITA, ITS, and can tell you from experience that if you don't have a roll cage and fuel cell, your car is not a track car. I recall a gent who brought his 'track car' BMW 635Csi to a track event at Road Atlanta. He was not able to drive it home from that event, having gone off drivers left coming up the hill out of the esses. And the ensuing conversation with his repair shop and insurance agent were quite animated, and ended being very expensive. If track speed / experience is the goal, a dedicated vehicle should fill the role. A sports car that you take to the track is just that, a compromise. So keep the SL, regardless of your friend's comments, and get a real track car: be it a real racing version of an M3, a Boxster, an RX8, or a Formula Ford. It is the most fun you will ever have with your clothes on.
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Old 07-07-2017, 02:28 PM
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As a former owner of a '14 SL550 I feel I have enough experience to comment on the aforementioned. As great as the build quality was on my car some issues were simply so oft-putting that when I look at the car on the road I'm simply amazed by how disjointed the styling appears to me now. The front and side profiles are simply abysmal though I rather like the rear.


Some other thoughts in no particular order:

The convertible top worked like a dream.

I loved the automatic headlamp feature which I used more often than I imagined.

The engine, though well powered, suffered slightly from some turbo lag.

The exhaust note was MUCH too gentle for a car of this caliber regardless of whether I was in Sport or Comfort modes.

The technology and radio were fine but not outstanding as in some similar priced BMW's and Audi's; many things felt a bit dated and some switch gear a bit cheap.

In the two years I had my car I had no real problems other then some tire issues that were handled by my dealer at prices that are to be expected and a broken windshield which was covered by my insurance.

In my area (NY) the MB SL demographic seems to be slanted towards people in their late 60's and up. I respect what MB has done with the model but think it should equally appeal to a slightly younger audience. As a cruiser the car is fabulous though the current incarnation of the SL, to my mind at least, simply doesn't have the visceral attraction that prior iterations have had.

Last edited by keys88; 07-07-2017 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 07-07-2017, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by keys88 View Post
As a former owner of a '14 SL550 I feel I have enough experience to comment on the aforementioned. As great as the build quality was on my car some issues were simply so oft-putting that when I look at the car on the road I'm simply amazed by how disjointed the styling appears to me now. The front and side profiles are simply abysmal though I rather like the rear.


Some other thoughts in no particular order:

The convertible top worked like a dream.

I loved the automatic headlamp feature which I used more often than I imagined.

The engine, though well powered, suffered slightly from some turbo lag.

The exhaust note was MUCH too gentle for a car of this caliber regardless of whether I was in Sport or Comfort modes.

The technology and radio were fine but not outstanding as in some similar priced BMW's and Audi's; many things felt a bit dated and some switch gear a bit cheap.

In the two years I had my car I had no real problems other then some tire issues that were handled by my dealer at prices that are to be expected and a broken windshield which was covered by my insurance.

In my area (NY) the MB SL demographic seems to be slanted towards people in their late 60's and up. I respect what MB has done with the model but think it should equally appeal to a slightly younger audience. As a cruiser the car is fabulous though the current incarnation of the SL, to my mind at least, simply doesn't have the visceral attraction that prior iterations have had.
I guess I agree with much of what you have said, although I prefer a quiet exhaust. I thought my 2004 SL500 was a much more attractive car. However, as I illustrated in another post here, about "the car we never got," the original, non-sport design of the R231 was, IMO, much more attractive and it was a shame it was never offered here.

Anyway, if comfort and refinement in a drop top are paramount, then there isn't anything else out there that compares, especially anywhere close to the price. It's not perfect, not nearly so, but what else is there, short of a Bentley?
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:37 AM
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I personally absolutely love the MB SL's. I has a hardtop, touch of a button convertible, tons of power, smooth ride for use as DD and compared with nearly all two seaters a damn good looking car. I do like the California a bit more though. Ferraris suck in maintenance costs!!! Compared to my LFA it is a very civilized car an old guy can drive everyday as fast as I can. Just a very limited market for this style of car. I am just thankful that it exists. I for one enjoy the ***** out of it and drive it like I stole it 90 % of the time!
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:02 PM
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I also do not understand those who want a exhaust note like Honda and Subaru Ricers seem to always have. 0n 3-6+ hour drives I prefer a whisper quiet exhaust. The SL gets plenty of attention as is. Years ago on my BMW Z3 I was seduced by some in the club to buy a top of the line aftermarket exhaust system to add more "Burble" to the sound. After a month I took it off and put the original back on. The drone hour after hour was nerve wracking and I drive for pleasure and relaxation.
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Old 07-09-2017, 11:38 PM
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I had a buddy that had an original 289 Cobra. He said he just LOVED driving it.......for 30 minutes. After that, the roar of the pipes and the heat coming into the interior was just too much, so he'd put it back in the garage and let it sit for another six months, then he'd take it out for another 30 minutes.
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Old 08-01-2017, 12:02 PM
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I am no expert on the matter, by any stretch, but I have looked at and compared about every make and model out there in convertible form. For me, the SL is beautiful, sporty yet refined and luxurious, of very high quality design, materials and workmanship, classy, powerful and fast, handles and drives very well, has decent cargo volume, and is roomy enough for big & tall folks like me.

Last edited by SLclass; 08-01-2017 at 12:05 PM.
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Old 08-11-2017, 03:11 PM
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The SL is a wonderful car. Not perfect but wonderful. It's comfortable, fast, handles well, decent MPG, full of fun and useful electronic bits, decent trunk space, reliable and the top makes it function equally well as a convertible or coupe.

Yea it won't win any beauty contest but it's not ugly. Yea the exhaust note is a little whimsy but at least the neighbors won't be angry and jealous. Yea, the steering is a little numb but it's not terrible.

On balance anyone fortunate enough to have one of these is a lucky SOB.

It will be interesting to see what MB does with the next SL. I'm betting it will be a significant change in the design since that seems to be the major complaint about this one.
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Old 08-11-2017, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by putter View Post
The SL is a wonderful car. Not perfect but wonderful. It's comfortable, fast, handles well, decent MPG, full of fun and useful electronic bits, decent trunk space, reliable and the top makes it function equally well as a convertible or coupe.

Yea it won't win any beauty contest but it's not ugly. Yea the exhaust note is a little whimsy but at least the neighbors won't be angry and jealous. Yea, the steering is a little numb but it's not terrible.

On balance anyone fortunate enough to have one of these is a lucky SOB.

It will be interesting to see what MB does with the next SL. I'm betting it will be a significant change in the design since that seems to be the major complaint about this one.
Rumors of it returning to a soft top...
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Old 08-12-2017, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by putter View Post
The SL is a wonderful car. Not perfect but wonderful. It's comfortable, fast, handles well, decent MPG, full of fun and useful electronic bits, decent trunk space, reliable and the top makes it function equally well as a convertible or coupe.

Yea it won't win any beauty contest but it's not ugly. Yea the exhaust note is a little whimsy but at least the neighbors won't be angry and jealous. Yea, the steering is a little numb but it's not terrible.

On balance anyone fortunate enough to have one of these is a lucky SOB.

It will be interesting to see what MB does with the next SL. I'm betting it will be a significant change in the design since that seems to be the major complaint about this one.
I have a Lincoln MKX SUV so I agree with former remarks. I also enjoy a wonderful SL, for pleasure driving
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