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2014 Mercedes-Benz SL 400

Naturally aspirated engines seem destined for the endangered species’ list as forced induction makes its way into nearly every mainstream category. The latest example is the new SL400 roadster Mercedes announced today. It’s a direct replacement for the SL350 roadster with the only real change centered around the new 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6.

The new biturbo V-6 might be down on displacement from its 3.5-liter predecessor, but it makes up for it with power — 26 extra horses and 81 extra pound-feet. Mercedes says 0 to 62 mph time will drop 0.7 seconds, doing the deed in 5.2 seconds on its way to its 155-mph governed top speed. While Mercedes does have a nine-speed transmission available for use, the German automaker decided the current seven-speed unit would suffice for the SL400.

The biturbo V-6 was first seen last year in the E400 sedan, though it made less power. Like that engine, the SL400’s mill features some pretty snazzy tech to create tire-turning torque while keeping the EPA (and customers’ wallets) happy. Its direct-injection fuel system features Piezo injectors that squirt fuel up to five times per power stroke for an even burn. The pressure at which they operate is varied based on engine mapping and certain conditions. Lighting the fuel is an ignition system that creates multiple sparks over during the same power stroke of each piston. Just like the fuel, the individual spark events are variable in their timing — all in an effort for the cleanest, most power-producing burn possible.

Mercedes says the SL400 will get 32 mpg while producing minimal tailpipe emissions.

Click past the jump to read more about Mercedes-Benz SL 400.

Exterior

Mercedes-Benz SL 400

Mercedes hasn’t mentioned any exterior updates from the SL350 to the new SL400 besides the appropriate badging swaps. That’s all well and good, as the SL-Class is a beautiful car that was redesigned in 2012. Even though its going on three years old, the design doesn’t look dated or tired.

The SL-Class features a few nifty gadgets on its outside like MAGIC VISION CONTROL which works with the windshield wipers by only squirting washer fluid on the wipers alternating leading edge. It’s MAGIC SKY CONTROL also helps with outward visibility. The power-folding hard top comes with a panoramic glass insert above the passengers, giving a open-air feel even with the top up. The driver can switch the glass between transparent and opaque at the touch of a button. This sort of technology was first seen on Mercedes’ Maybach limousines.

Drivetrain

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG 45th Anniversary

Current SL-Class pictured

Like other manufacturers, Mercedes seems to be taking the reduced-displacement, forced-induction route.

Like we mentioned before the jump, the new SL400 comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo (or biturbo as Mercedes calls it) V-6 making 333 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a conventional seven-speed automatic that powers the rear wheels.

Like other manufacturers, Mercedes seems to be taking the reduced-displacement, forced-induction route. This not only helps increase power from a smaller, lighter engine, but also helps increase the car’s overall fuel economy. Sure, folks shopping for a $100,000 two-door roadster probably aren’t overly concerned about how the EPA rates their fuel consumption, but it does help Mercedes meet those looming CAFE standards.

Price

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG 45th Anniversary

Speaking about finances, the Mercedes SL-Class has a base starting price of $106,700 for the 2014 SL550. That price climbs to $147,300 with the SL63 AMG, and even further to $214,500 for the monstrous SL65 AMG.

Mercedes says the SL400 will fall below the SL550 in its lineup, becoming an additional member of the SL-Class. In Europe, however, the SL400 will replace the SL350 and its 3.5-liter V-6.

Since the SL400 will take the lowest spot in the SL-Class lineup, we’d expect it to begin just under $100,000 — say $95,000 plus all the extra charges and fees. We’ll let you know when Mercedes announces the official pricing, so stay tuned to TopSpeed.

Competition

Jaguar F-Type

Jaguar F-Type Roadster

Jaguar has see quite a revival since the F-Type’s release in 2013. The Roadster has proved to be a wonderful car will great balance, poise, and plenty of power. Though it only come with a soft top, the F-Type doesn’t neglect the luxuries of a grand tourer. Like the SL-Class, the F-Type comes with different engine options designed for different buyers.

Starting out, the F-Type is powered by a 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 making 340- to 380 horsepower (depending on trim level) and a raucous 5.0-liter, naturally-aspirated V-8 making 495 horses and 460 pound-feet of torque.

Prices for the F-Type Roadster start at $65,500 for the standard trim and climbs to $77,000 for the ‘S’ Trim. The most powerful F-Type is the ‘R,’ whose price starts at $99,000.

BMW 6-Series Convertible

BMW 650i Convertible

The 6-Series is offered in two different trim levels, both having the option of xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. The base 640i comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder making 315 horsepower. The 650i has BMW’s powerful 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 making an impressive 445 horsepower. Both engines are backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission that features Sport and manual shift modes.

Like the Jaguar, the 6-Series comes with a fabric soft top. While it may permit more sound to enter the cockpit while driving, the ragtop does keep the car’s overall weight down and lowers the center of gravity.

Pricing for the 6-Series starts at $82,900 for the 640i while adding xDrive bumps the price to $85,900. Upgrading to the 650i puts the base price at $94,200 while the 650i xDrive starts at $97,200.

Conclusion

Mercedes-Benz SL 400

The addition of the SL400 to the SL-Class lineup seems to be a smart move on Mercedes’ part. It potentially lowers the base price to the SL-Class while helping bump up the corporate CAFE fuel-economy average.

The benefit of downsizing engine size and bolting turbos or a supercharger on has been realized in other cars across the world, though Mercedes Mercedes hasn’t been ignorant of that. This car is just the continuation of the replacement of displacement for a good cause. It’s because of increased technology and better engineering that we’re able to enjoy high-horsepower engines with good fuel economy. Otherwise, we’d be right back in 1973 with 120-horsepower V-8s strangled with smog-absorbing devices that also absorbed all the fun. Those were certainly dark days.

LOVE IT
  • Improved fuel economy
  • More horsepower to play with
  • Helps Mercedes meet the all-important CAFE standards
LEAVE IT
  • Likely more expensive than the SL350
  • High boost in small displacement engines is tricky, and could result in more wear and tear

Press Release

The SL Roadster family from Mercedes-Benz is raring to go with a new engine. The SL 400 is now endowed with a six-cylinder biturbo drive system. Despite half a litre less displacement the output has risen by 20 kW (27 hp). Plus there are 110 newton metres more torque at its disposal. The price of the SL 400 starts from 97,282.50 euros (for the German market incl. 19% VAT).
As an automotive icon the Mercedes-Benz SL blends accomplished motoring at the highest level with exquisite style. Manufactured virtually completely from aluminium, the roadster also sets the standards in the category of luxurious roadsters with its numerous technical innovations. Not forgetting that the SL is entirely suitable for everyday use thanks to its retractable vario-roof. This makes it the all-rounder amongst sports cars.
In contrast to its predecessor, the SL 400 is not fitted with a naturally aspirated engine. Instead it boasts a six-cylinder unit with two turbochargers. Although its displacement has been reduced to three litres, the biturbo drive system develops a high full-load output potential with a charge pressure of 1.8 bar, and facilitates an extremely high torque of 480 newton metres at low engine speeds. It achieves 20 kW more than the SL 350. Its torque increases by 110 newton metres and is available in the engine speed range of 1600 to 4000 rpm. Plus the efficient six-cylinder meets the EU6 emissions standard.

Like all BlueDIRECT petrol engines the biturbo engine in the new SL 400 also works with a direct injection system with spray-guided combustion, which Mercedes-Benz was the first car manufacturer to offer in series production. The system pressure is up to 200 bar, the pressure being variably optimised according to the engine’s mapping. Piezo injectors enable optimal mixture formation with up to five injections per power stroke. The third-generation direct injection is supplemented by rapid multi-spark ignition, MSI. How it works: Following the first spark discharge and a brief combustion period, the coil is recharged very rapidly and a further spark is discharged. The MSI system enables up to four sparks to be discharged in succession within one millisecond, creating a plasma with a larger spatial expansion than conventional ignition.
The rapid multi-spark ignition can be controlled to vary both the timing of the sparks and the combustion period to suit the relevant operating point. This provides scope for optimising the centre of combustion and improved residual gas compatibility. The result of this is excellent utilisation of the fuel with minimum emissions.

The SL 400 also offers two extraordinary innovations as standard: the unique Frontbass system developed by Mercedes-Benz transforms the luxury sports car into a concert hall, when the top is up and down, and the highly efficient MAGIC VISION CONTROL wipe/wash system takes water from the wiper blade to the windscreen as required and irrespective of the direction of wipe.


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