Hardtop convertibles are becoming a part of Mercedes history because Mercedes is now focusing more on the SUV department, which has led to the discontinuation of their hardtop convertibles. However, even though there are no new Mercedes hardtop convertibles on the market, there are still plenty to choose from on the used car market.
The most popular Mercedes convertible hardtop is the Mercedes SLK/SLC Roadster, the SLK/SLC had been in continuous production for 23 years when Mercedes decided to discontinue the SLC in 2020. The best hardtop Mercedes convertible is probably the SL, even though the SL was discontinued in 2019. There rumors that Mercedes might introduce it again in 2022.
The SL is a sports car grand tourer that was produced by Mercedes from 1954 up until 2019. The SL introduced a sportier Mercedes that was more targeted at a younger customer base. It was a sleek two-seater roadster made for coastal cruising.
The best Mercedes SL of all time is undoubtedly the 1954-1963 300SL ”Gullwing”, a car that is now worth millions. But the best hardtop convertible SL is the most recent version that was produced between 2013 and 2019, especially the facelifted model from 2016.
The 2016 SL offers relatively modern technology and a design that is still keeps up with even the newest Mercedes models. The best model of them all is the SL500, offering a 4.7-liter Biturbo V8 producing 455hp and is paired with a fairly modern 9-speed transmission.
The top-of-the-line hardtop SL models are the SL63 AMG, and the V12 powered SL65 AMG. These convertibles produce upwards of 580hp for the 63 and around 630hp for the V12 powered 65 AMG. Both of them are offered with a more conventional faster-shifting 7-speed gearbox, but they are not as smooth as the 9-speed transmission.
The average price for these SL models is $50k for the least powered ones, all the way up to $100k+ for the AMG models.
The Mercedes SLK was first introduced in 1996 and was positioned as a more compact hardtop sports car. The SLK was a lot smaller than the SL and was positioned against cars such as the Porsche Cayman, the Mazda MX-5, or the BMW Z4.
The best generation of the SLK is the renamed SLC that was introduced in 2011 and produced all the way up until 2020, especially the facelifted models after 2016. The SLC offers a sportier driving experience to the SL, even though the SLC is a lot less powerful and less luxurious.
The best SLC to buy is the 2019 SLC 43 AMG. This SLC variant offers around 385hp from a Biturbo V6 engine, and the starting price for these as new was around $64k. Nowadays, these can be acquired for much less than that as they are not as popular as they once were.
Best Classic Mercedes hardtop convertible
If you are in the market for a classic convertible, the newest and most technologically-advanced roadsters might not be the thing you are most interested in. Choosing a more stylish and proven old-school Mercedes might just be up your alley.
Taking a trip down Mercedes Convertible memory lane, you’ll encounter many different attractive Mercedes convertibles. Cars such as the 1967 Mercedes 250SL Pagoda are highly sought after by collectors and they cost more than $40k for cars in decent shape, and more than $76k for excellent ones.
Some models like the Mercedes SL classics from the 80s are the most affordable classic Mercedes roadsters. Cars like these can be acquired for less than $10k, which is hard to beat. These SL models offer punchy engines, but the design of these is questionable by many different enthusiasts.
The future of Mercedes convertibles
Why did Mercedes discontinue the SL and the SLC?
As the general public keeps wanting more and more SUVs, manufacturers like Mercedes tend to follow the trends. And because of this, the hardtop convertibles are being discontinued. For a spot of context, the US market is the market mostly targeted by Mercedes when it comes to hardtop convertibles.
The sales of SLs in the US market peaked in 2003, with Mercedes selling around 13k of them. But in 2018, Mercedes only managed to ship out around 2000 units. With such low demand, Mercedes decided to discontinue the production of the SL.
As far as the SLC/SLK class is considered, the peak sales in the US market were in 2005 when Mercedes managed to sell almost 11k units. But, in 2019 Mercedes also only managed to sell fewer than 2000 units.
Is Mercedes going to revive the SL and the SLC?
In 2019, Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener said that the SL was going to be revived in 2022. The goals of the new SL are a more focused driving experience and a focus towards bringing back the iconic Mercedes 300SL design.
The development for the new SL is being handled by the Mercedes AMG department, which only means that the SL is going to offer driving characteristics more akin to the sporty AMG GT models. The engines for the new SL are probably going to be a V6 for the entry model, and a V8 for the top-of-the-line model.
A V12 variant is rather questionable as Mercedes stopped making V12 powered cars a couple of years ago due to ever more restrictive emissions regulations.
Many sources affiliated with the company also indicated that a possible return of the SLC is also on the horizon.
What’s the future like for convertible cars?
The future of convertible sports cars is rather questionable as the SUV craze keeps ramping up. Many car manufacturers are even moving away from sedans towards SUVs, and sedans ship much more units than a convertible ever could.
Furthermore, convertibles are usually associated with powerful, larger engines. And these types of engines are slowly being discontinued due to rigid emissions regulations. Only time will tell the future of the convertible, but as of late, SUVs seem to be the segment that offers the most promise.