Mercedes has been hot to trot lately with an onslaught of different models just spilling out of the German manufacturer. The SLS AMG is fresh and so is the SLK Roadster. And, as a next logical step, the SL-Class has also entered a whole new generation. The new SL continues the tradition started by its predecessor, but offers considerably more comfort and athletic character, setting new standards in the luxury roadster class.
The US market will only get the SL550 version - a model powered by a 4663 cc V8 engine that delivers a total of 429 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque. The engine will be combined with ECO stop/start function as standard equipment and a 7-Speed Driver-Adaptive automatic transmission. The European market will benefit from that model, as well as an SL350 version that will use a V6 engine with an output of 306 HP.
UPDATE 04/17/2012: Mercedes USA has released a new walk around video of the SL-Class Roadster. Be sure to give it a watch because the SL’s product manager, Dave Larsen, will be the one taking you through everything you need to know about the new member of Mercedes’ legendary SL line. Check out the video after the jump!
Mercedes SL Walkaround with Dave Larsen
The new SL-Class still has the traditional design features of its predecessor, but with added perspective and vision to update its look. It combines a long bonnet with a wide, powerful rear end giving the impression of raciness. And just like with the new SLK, the SL features powerfully sculpted and yet calm surfaces and elegant lines. The ventilation lamps have received chromed fins from the dynamic traditional Mercedes-Benz design heritage, while an upright classic sports car radiator grille clearly marks out the new SL.
The famous Mercedes star logo now extends into the center section with its organically flowing contours. The car’s front is also dominated by dynamically slanting headlamps offered with standard Intelligent Light System (ILS).
Particular highlights of the bodyshell:
The Front Wall is at present the largest aluminum cast component made in large series for vehicle bodywork
Many sheet metal parts are designed in such a way that for the first time they can be made from 100 percent recycled aluminum, saving 80 percent of the energy used in their production.
The longitudinal members in the vehicle front end are made using high-pressure hydroforming (IHU) technology, which enables the creation of highly complex and robust components, permitting optimum use of reduced installation spaces.
The door sills (longitudinal members) consist of 1.7-metre long, 7-chamber extrusion-moulded aluminum sections; these provide rigidity in the lateral sectors and safety in the event of a collision. Flexible chamber distribution makes possible a minimum component weight coupled with optimum characteristics.
The tunnel is made of aluminum sheet metal with a reinforcement of varying thickness (3 different thicknesses depending on sector, a so-called tailored welded blank TWB).
The rear sector floor is a MIG welded frame with a hollow chilled cast longitudinal member as its central element. This technique is employed in the SL for the very first time in automotive bodyshell construction.
The rear sector floor frame structure is closed by floor sheet metal panels and the boot tub made by vacuum die-casting.
The spare wheel recess is made from recycled sheet metal.
The central member connects the front end with the rear sector floor. The mounting points for the drive shaft, the transmission cross beam, the transmission tunnel braces and the seat bolting points on the tunnel side are all integrated into a single element. The wall thicknesses and rib distribution are oriented bionically towards the requirements and loads.
Many other components were optimized bionically, i.e. based on examples from nature. These structures reduce the vehicle weight compared to a classic design even further.
The new design lines and aluminum structure of the SL-Class allow it to have improved aerodynamics with the lowest drag coefficient (cd = 0.27 in the SL 350). These features also allow for the lowest wind noise and the best comfort for open-top motoring.
Compared to the previous generation SL-Class, the new model has grown in all its dimensions; it is much longer (+1.97 inches) and wider (+2.24 inches), providing more room for greater comfort in the interior, too. Shoulder room (+1.46 inches) and elbow room (+1.10 inches) have been increased, exceeding the norm for this class of vehicle.
The interior combines the higher quality leather with wood insertions used from the center console across the dashboard into the doors. Mercedes is also offering two different aluminum trim finishes.
The new SL will be offered with standard "Cockpit Management and Data System" COMAND that includes Bluetooth telephony along with simpler operation of the car phone.
MAGIC VISION CONTROL
Mercedes’ Magic Vision Control System actually sounds a lot more fancy than it actually is, but it’s still a cool feature. It’s a new, intelligent, and highly efficient wipe/wash system that eliminates the splashy, watery mess that ensues when washer fluid is sprayed on our windshield. This new system applies the washer fluid in front of the wiper blade lip via the channels integrated into the blade – in both directions of wipe. This cleans the windshield without blinding the driver or passengers. For the first time, a fully heated wiper blade is available as an option to prevent snow or ice from forming on the blade in winter. This feature can also use warm water to be applied to the windshield, even in cold temperatures.
The Frontbass system uses the free space in the aluminum structures of the footwell as resonance spaces for the bass loudspeakers. This allows for a clear and crisp sound, even with the top down. It also frees up the space in the doors.
The HANDS-FREE ACCESS System allows the driver to just move their foot in the vicinity of the rear bumper to open the trunk, as well as close it. We’re not sure how safe that is in terms of other people opening your trunk, but the idea behind it is nice.
Active Parking Assist
The Active Park Assist automatically parks the new SL-Class for you. It uses ultrasound sensors to identify parking spaces and automatically steers the vehicle into the space while parking.
Infotainment COMAND with internet access
The SL-Class’ Infotainment system is available on all of its variants and comes with the "Cockpit Management and Data System" COMAND. It features Bluetooth as standard and COMAND Online with internet access and DVD changer as an option. These systems provide unlimited web browsing while in park, as well as high-speed access to a Mercedes-Benz online service – for weather and special destination searches. As an option, customers can send individual destinations and routes via Google Maps to the vehicle. The system has also benefited from new apps, including a free news app and a Facebook app, as well as optional
Mercedes-Benz apps for share prices and a car park finder.
Both COMAND versions feature a high-resolution TFT colour display with 17.8 cm diagonal (800 x 480 pixels) at the side next to the instrument cluster. This screen arrangement prevents the driver from being distracted as far as possible.
On the US market, the new SL-Class will only be offered in the SL550 version. It is powered by a 4663 cc V8 engine that delivers a total of 429 HP and a peak torque of 516 lb-ft. The engine will be combined with an ECO stop/start function as standard and a 7-Speed Driver-Adaptive automatic transmission. The new SL550 will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds - eight tenths less than the previous SL550.
In Europe, clients will also have a second choice: an SL350 model that uses a 3499 cc new V6 engine delivering a total of 306 HP and 272 lbs-ft of torque. This version will sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds, making it three tenths of a second faster than its predecessor.
The new Mercedes SL-Class’ new crash-optimized aluminum structure, standard-fit PRE-SAFE, and assistance systems allows it to be the world’s safest roadster. There are precisely defined deformation zones in the front and rear ends and, in the event of the vehicle overturning, there are A-pillars made out of a mix of steel and aluminum and two roll-over bars to protect the passengers. Airbags include two-stage driver and front passenger airbags, a headbag to cover the side head-impact area, and an additional thorax airbag in the seat backrest to protect the upper body in the event of a side impact. Another new feature is the crash-responsive NECK-PRO head restraints developed by Mercedes-Benz which are fitted as standard in the SL.
The newest safety highlight is the anticipatory occupant protection system, PRE-SAFE, developed by Mercedes-Benz. This system is available as standard and detects a serious risk of an accident. Once an accident is detected, the system reflexively activates precautionary protective measures for the vehicle occupants, so that the seat belts and airbags are able to fulfill their protective function to the full during an impact.
Attention Assist and Adaptive Brake systems are also standard for the new SL-Class. The Attention Assist is a standard-fit drowsiness detection system and the Adaptive Brake system features ABS, acceleration skid control (ASR) and active yaw control, and offers comfort and convenience functions in addition to safety functions.
Debut and Sales Date
In Europe, the SL is on sale with prices starting from 93,534.00 euro (about $121,500 at the current exchange rates) for the SL350 version. The new Mercedes SL-Class will go on sale on the US market in May 2012. The only model initially available in the States will be the SL550 which will be priced at $106,375, including an $875 destination charge.
Ready to take on the Mercedes SL-Class will be the Porsche 991 911, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the Jaguar XK, and the Maserati GranCabrio.
The sixth generation of the Porsche 911 - the 991 - will be out in 2012 and just the anticipation of Porsche’s most loved model will be enough to skyrocket their sales. The 3.6L flat six engine provides close to what the Merc’s engine will get, but falls a little short at 365hp. Another model that falls even shorter in the power department is the Jaguar XK with only 300hp to speak of. Where prices are concerned, the Jaguar XK is a much cheaper buy and the Porsche can be cheaper or more expensive depending on the version.
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage perks up the power a bit with a total output of 420hp coming out of the 4.7L V8 engine, but the competitor that gives the Mercedes the most competition in terms of power is the Maserati GranCabrio with its 433hp 4.7L V8. Both of these machines can also be cheaper or more expensive than the SL-Class depending on the options chosen.