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Mercedes unveils their next generation SL-550

The SL remains the status symbol for most men
Friday, December 16, 2011


In celebration of the car’s 60th birthday, Mercedes-Benz has pulled the wraps off of an all-new SL-Class, and the born-again 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is ready for its close-up.  Like many famous faces, the latest generation of Mercedes’ iconic roadster has gotten quite a bit of work done. For starters, the new car is made almost entirely of aluminum, which helps reduce curb weight by 275 pounds compared to the heavier two-seater it replaces. The new SL’s heart is also stronger with a 4.6-liter, direct injected, twin-turbo V-8 engine that pumping out 429 hp and 516 lb-ft. of torque.

SL stands for Sport Leicht—“Sport Light”—but Mercedes’ roadster hasn’t lived up to the billing for decades, instead morphing into a heavy boulevard cruiser. The outgoing SL is certainly quick, but it’s far from nimble. Small wonder: The SL550 tipped the scales at 4233 pounds. At a recent tech day, Mercedes told journalists what it’s doing to change that, along with a few other things to expect on the 2013 SL-class.

Almost 250 pounds of the 275 pound savings comes via the aluminum-intensive body.  Only the new car’s windshield and roof frames are made from steel, and the rear bulkhead is partially constructed from even lighter magnesium. The rest is aluminum, save for the trunk lid. That piece is made from plastic composite and allows Mercedes to integrate all antennae for the radio, navigation, and phone systems into the panel itself.

The new SL is not just lighter. Its structure is stronger, thanks to various advanced bonding techniques and “bionic” elements inspired by structures found in nature. Torsional rigidity has improved by more than 20 percent, according to Mercedes.

The new SL sticks to its tradition as a technological trendsetter. See the first impressions here. As a world premiere the new front bass system transforms the car into a concert hall -- top down as well as closed. Also the new wipe-wash-system MAGIC VISION CONTROL applies the cleaning liquid right from the wiper in front of the wiper slat.

The system takes into account temperature, velocity, and even the season to calculate the optimal amount of washer fluid to be sprayed onto the windshield. When you operate the system with an open top, the fluid—spurted from several arm-mounted jets—is sprayed mainly when the wiper is moving downwards, so you won’t receive an unwanted shower. The washer fluid is heated, but the wiper blade also can be heated as an extra-cost option.

60 years after the original model took to the roads, the latest generation of the roadster has been worked to vastly improve the performance of the audio system, especially in top-down mode. The bass speakers are now integrated on the underside of the dash, in the footwells, instead of their typical position in the doors or under the seats.  The company says the experience is hugely superior when the roof is open. This so-called “Front Bass” system is standard, and the auditory experience can be further enhanced by specifying either a 600-watt Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround-sound system or the top-spec 940-watt Bang & Olufsen system.

Topping off the makeover are the cosmetic touches it received in the form of an all new exterior and interior. Now that it’s taken off the bandages from all the nips and tucks, it’s out and about and feeling young again, as it frolics up the coast, through the mountains and in the desert, showing off just how much life has gotten better with age.

Prices are expected to start the north side of $100K.

Photo Gallery

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