The V6 and V8 models of the new generation SL-Class are equipped as standard with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission, the only passenger car transmission of this type in the world. 7G-TRONIC incorporates numerous engineering innovations which, in conjunction with the state-of-the-art engines, provide enhanced acceleration and mid-range power, lower fuel consumption and greater shifting comfort. The S/C selector in the centre console allows the driver to choose between "Sport" and "Comfort" driving programs which modify the characteristics of not only the transmission but also the accelerator pedal.
Optionally available: 7G-TRONIC Sport for even faster shifting
An entirely new feature is the 7G-TRONIC Sport transmission which is available as an option for the SL 350 and SL 500; as well as offering a manual shift program, it features shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel. The "M" manual program is activated by pressing the S/C/M button on the centre console; in this mode, the seven gears can be shifted using the two motorsport-style shift paddles on the multifunction steering wheel – pulling briefly on the left paddle shifts down while the right paddle shifts up. In "M" mode, the system’s electronics reliably maintain the last gear selected, even at full throttle. It is thus possible to make optimum use of the high pulling power of the V6 and V8 engines. However, depressing the accelerator fully triggers the kickdown function which causes the transmission to shift down in order to deliver maximum acceleration. Furthermore, 7G-TRONIC Sport reduces shift times by up to 30 percent in manual mode.
Transmission ratio: optimised thanks to wider overall spread
The special characteristics of the seven-speed automatic transmission are attributable to various different design features, the most important of which is the increase in the number of forward speeds from five to seven. This results in a wider overall ratio spread, while at the same time the ratios are also closer together than in the five-speed transmission. An optimal ratio can therefore be selected for virtually all driving situations. The fact that the electronic control unit has a greater number of ratios to choose from also reduces fuel consumption and increases smoothness. Depending on the driving situation, average engine speeds at 100 km/h are approximately twelve percent lower than with a five-speed automatic transmission. The optimal matching of engine speed to driving conditions means that the engine offers better fuel economy and also runs more quietly.
The Mercedes engineers have also made important advances in terms of the transmission’s control logic: if the 7G-TRONIC transmission needs to shift down quickly through several gears – under kickdown, for example – a multiple downshift function comes into operation. Instead of changing gear sequentially, one gear at a time, the transmission shifts down by up to four gears at a time, depending on the driving situation, resulting in significantly faster shift times.
Extra comfort: torque converter lockup and torsional damper
The new seven-speed automatic transmission is fitted with a hydrodynamic torque converter with lockup clutch. Whenever possible, the lockup clutch creates a virtually rigid connection between the engine and the transmission shaft, thus preventing slip between the impeller and turbine, and thus power losses, in a wide range of operating situations. In the Mercedes-Benz seven-speed automatic transmission, the lockup clutch engages even in first gear, rather than only in the higher gears as on conventional automatic transmissions. For reasons of comfort, the torque converter lock-up clutch is slip-controlled and therefore engages very smoothly. Furthermore, the SL-Class has a new turbine torsion damper; this reduces vibrations, especially at low revs, and thus enhances comfort when operating in the partial load range.
Five-speed automatic transmission: also available with optional steering-wheel shift paddles
Power transmission in the SL 600 is handled by the proven five-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to the new, more efficient engine management system, it has been possible to develop a greater degree of differentiation between the "Sport", "Comfort" and "Manual" driving programs – which translates into a more compelling or more comfortable driving experience, depending on the driver’s choice. Steering-wheel gearshift paddles which allow motorsport-style gear changing are available as an optional extra.
Sports-car enthusiasts expect a two-seater with the "SL" model designation to offer the highest standards of comfort, performance, active safety and, especially, handling dynamics. When the current SL model series was presented in 2001, it was the technology behind the three-letter abbreviation "ABC" that allowed it to offer a combination of these criteria in a way that was previously unheard of for vehicles of this type. ABC stands for Active Body Control – the active suspension system which Mercedes-Benz first presented in the CL-Class in 1999 and which is still exclusive to the brand.
The key components of the Mercedes-Benz active suspension system are hydraulically controlled servo cylinders known as plunger pistons. Situated in the suspension struts together with passive shock absorbers and coil springs, they are controlled on the basis of sensor signals which two microcomputers compare with stored algorithms. In order to reduce pitch, roll or lift, the plunger applies pressure to the spring plate, thus counteracting the body movement – and all this happens in a fraction of a second.
Suspension: enhanced second-generation ABC
Active Body Control represents a milestone in automotive technology. It resolves the conflict of interests between a comfortable ride and sporty handling by automatically optimising the suspension set-up in accordance with the requirements of the driving situation in hand. ABC has been refined even further for the new generation SL-Class. Response times have been cut thanks to the use of optimised components and shorter connections. A comparison with the predecessor model shows that second-generation ABC is even more effective at attenuating body movements, reducing them by as much as 60 percent (compared with the predecessor model) in dynamic driving situations. In the lower speed range, in particular, this takes the SL-Class into a new dimension of handling excellence, yet the Roadster still offers the same high level of comfort.
Another notable feature of Active Body Control is the variable roll moment distribution between the front and rear axles, which the system adjusts automatically in accordance with the speed of the vehicle. At higher speeds, in particular, this results in even greater stability than before. In order to reduce drag, ABC automatically lowers the body by anything up to 15 millimetres at speeds of between 65 and 100 km/h. If more ground clearance is needed when driving on poor road surfaces, the driver can raise the level of the vehicle by a maximum of 50 millimetres by simply pressing a button. The driver can also use the program selector button to choose between "Sport" and "Comfort" suspension settings. In "Sport" mode, the piston plungers respond more dynamically so that, when negotiating an 18-metre slalom test at 55 km/h, the roll angle of the body is reduced by more than 60 percent. Thanks to the load-adjustment function, the current vehicle weight is taken into account in the calculations which determine the response of the active suspension. As a result, the SL-Class achieves identical dynamic handling values even when laden.
ABC standard in V8 and V12 models, available as an option for the SL 350
Fitted as standard in the SL 500 and SL 600, Active Body Control is available as an optional extra for the SL 350. The V6 model has a conventional steel suspension system with gas-filled shock absorbers. All the SL variants have the same fundamental axle technology: a state-of-the-art four-link system is fitted at the front while the rear is equipped with the proven multi-link independent suspension which is used in millions of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. A new engine mount in the SL 500 reduces any tendency of the front axle to judder and improves low-speed comfort noticeably.
Steering: all-new set-up with a more direct ratio
The speed-sensitive power steering has been revised to enhance its precision and agility. A seven-percent increase in the directness of the steering ratio means that the SL-Class is now even more manoeuvrable. The modified valve control logic of the power-assistance system results in a faster response around the straight-ahead position. Furthermore, the Mercedes engineers have equipped the SL-Class with a new power-steering pump with a higher delivery rate which ensures optimum assistance even when the steering wheel is moved quickly. Driving comfort is optimised by a new steering damper.
The V6 and V8 models of the new generation SL-Class are equipped all round with 255/45 R 17 wide tyres on 8.5 J x 17 light-alloy wheels. In the SL 600, optimum road contact is provided by 255/40 R 18 tyres at the front and 285/35 R 18 tyres at the rear on 18-inch wheels with respective widths of 8.5 and. 9.5 inches. Two different designs of 18-inch light-alloy wheels are optionally available. Furthermore, for the first time, 19-inch AMG wheels and tyres are available as a factory-fitted option.
Active safety: tyre pressure loss warning system fitted as standard
The tyre pressure is monitored by the ESP® Electronic Stability Program or, optionally, by a special monitoring system based on wireless technology:
ESP® continually compares the speeds of the wheels, which are mainly dependent on the road speed, the load and the tyre pressure. In addition, the control unit automatically checks other dynamic performance criteria such as lateral acceleration, yaw rate and wheel torque, in order to identify any loss of pressure in a tyre. In doing so, the system detects any anomalies and informs the driver via a message on the central display panel: "Tyre pressure, check tyres". The tyre pressure loss warning system based on ESP® technology is included in the standard equipment of the SL-Class with immediate effect.
In the tyre pressure monitoring system (optional), a sensor measures both the air pressure and the air temperature inside the tyre and transmits the data by radio to an underbody receiver aerial at regular intervals. Intelligent software automatically identifies the positions of the wheels so that the driver is provided with information about the air pressure in each of the four tyres via the central display panel.
Brake system: optimised further for maximum deceleration and resistance to fading
To match its enhanced handling dynamics and agility, the new generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class features a brake system which has been optimised to provide even greater sensitivity, deceleration and resistance to fading. The front and rear wheels are equipped with large brake discs and callipers for safe, reliable braking. In view of their significantly enhanced handling dynamics, the SL 350 and SL 500 have larger brake systems than the corresponding predecessor models. The front brake discs of all the model variants are perforated. The holes allow moisture and dirt to be evacuated so that the brakes will continue to function reliably and provide excellent deceleration in adverse weather conditions.
Seductive lines, a 510-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-12 engine, hand-fitted Exclusive Nappa leather interior, retractable aluminum hardtop, and handcrafted interior combine luxury, style, and peerless performance.
The twelve-cylinder engine of the SL 600 reflects the wealth of experience and expertise which Mercedes-Benz brings to the development of high-tech powerplants. The Stuttgart-based automaker is the world’s largest manufacturer of V12 engines for passenger cars. This top-of-the-range engine has been revised for the new generation SL-Class: thanks to a new, far more efficient electronic engine management system, output has been raised by 12 kW/17 hp to 380 kW/517 hp. Maximum torque is also up by 30 newton metres to a new high of 830 Nm – and remains constant at this impressive level between 1900 and 3500 rpm.
With figures like these, it is clear that the SL 600 has ample resources to cope with every driving situation. It accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in only 4.5 seconds and polishes off the 60 to 120 km/h sprint in 4.2 seconds. The maximum speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Combined NEDC fuel consumption is 14.3 litres per 100 kilometres. The V12 combines its impressive performance with exemplary smoothness and extremely quiet operation - ideal conditions for a refined, highly enjoyable driving experience.
No. of cylinders/arrangement
12/V, 3 valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke
82 x 87
830 at 1900-3500 rpm
9.0 : 1
Microprocessor-controlled injection system, biturbo system
A robust 382-horsepower V-8 generates exceptional velocity. Driver-adaptive 7-speed automatic transmission offers the race-inspired manual control of Touch Shift while the retractable aluminum hardtop folds in seconds for an unforgettable drive. Regardless of the destination, Active Body Control (ABC) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) ensure confident handling no matter what you encounter on the way.
The eight-cylinder engine in the SL 500 is a newly developed unit which has been providing the new S-Class with superbly assured performance since autumn 2005. With a displacement of 5.5 litres, the engine develops 285 kW/388 hp which represents an increase in performance of more than 26 percent compared with the previous V8. At 530 newton metres, its torque is also significantly higher – about 15 percent – than the maximum achieved by the previous engine. This high level of torque is available from 2800 rpm and remains constant throughout a wide engine speed range up to 4800 rpm, providing the ideal basis for powerful acceleration and fast intermediate sprints.
The SL 500 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds (predecessor model: 6.2 seconds). Despite the 26 percent boost in performance, the fuel consumption (NEDC combined) matches that of the predecessor model at 12.2 litres per 100 kilometres.
No. of cylinders/arrangement
8/V, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke
98.0 x 90.5
530 at 2800-4800 rpm
10.7 : 1
Microprocessor-controlled injection system with hot-film air-mass sensor (HFM)