The FINANCIAL — With the completely redeveloped SL, Mercedes-Benz continues a tradition that began 60 years ago, according to Daimler.
The letters "SL" have ever since been synonymous with a symbiosis of sportiness, style and comfort – and with groundbreaking innovations. The new SL has been produced for the first time almost entirely from aluminium and weighs up to 140 kilograms less than its predecessor. Its highly rigid all-aluminium bodyshell provides the basis for agile, sporty handling that has been taken to an entirely new level, coupled with exemplary roll characteristics and ride comfort.
Even better driving dynamics come courtesy of the new BlueDIRECT engines; they are more powerful yet at the same time up to 29 percent more economical than the engines in the outgoing generation. Other new features include the unique Frontbass system, which turns the luxury sports car into a concert hall regardless of whether the top is open or closed, and the highly efficient adaptive windscreen wipe/wash system MAGIC VISION CONTROL; it supplies water from the wiper blade as required and depending on the direction of wipe.
Compared with its successful predecessor, the new Mercedes-Benz SL offers considerably more comfort and sportiness, setting new standards in the luxury roadster class. Added to which is uncompromising day-to-day suitability, which turns the SL into an incomparable all-rounder among sports cars. In short, anyone that talks about the new SL is bound to be talking about the ultimate in passionate, refined motoring.The new-generation Mercedes-Benz SL takes the meaning of the famous letters "SL" – super, lightweight – literally.
Consistent weight reduction is one of the most outstanding design characteristics in the new SL as was the case in its namesake, the original SL of 1952 with its lightweight tubular frame. For the first time Mercedes-Benz has implemented an all-aluminium bodyshell in a series-production model. Only very few components consist of other materials. The designers use the even lighter magnesium for the cover behind the tank. High-strength steel tubing is integrated in the A-pillars for safety reasons.
The new aluminium bodyshell weighs around 110 kilograms less than it would using the steel technology from the predecessor. "The effect is rather as if a heavyweight-class passenger had got out of the car" says Dr Thomas Rudlaff, responsible for the aluminium bodyshell at Mercedes-Benz. "The result is perceptible and measurable. Less weight means more dynamism and less consumption. In other words: the motoring enjoyment increases, the environmental burden sinks."
The aluminium structure is not only lighter but also proves superior to the predecessor's steel construction in terms of rigidity, safety and comfort. This is achieved thanks, among other things, to its intelligent lightweight construction with components optimised for their specific task. Thus, diverse processes
are used to make different kinds of aluminium depending on the use the component is to be given: the parts are made by chill casting or vacuum die-casting, worked into extruded aluminium sections or into aluminium panels of different thicknesses. The result: high rigidity, high safety levels and better vibration characteristics.
Although the new SL is even more comfortable and has more assistance systems on-board than its predecessor and therefore does actually sacrifice some of the weight saved through the aluminium bodyshell, the scales show some astonishing figures: the new SL 500 (1.785 kg) weighs around 125 kilograms less than its predecessor. On balance, the SL 350 (1.685 kg) is even 140 kilograms lighter – all thanks to a host of other intelligent enhanced details to reduce weight, which Mercedes-Benz has also implemented in the new SL in addition to the aluminium bodyshell.
Powerful while accelerating, effortlessly superior across all speeds, nimble on winding roads – the new SL provides ample driving pleasure. Apart from the powerful engines, the sportily tuned yet comfortable suspension, which also boasts intelligent lightweight construction, proves outstanding. For instance, the steering knuckles and spring links on the front axle are also made out of aluminium to reduce the unsprung masses. The same also applies to virtually all the wheel location components on the rear axle.
The new SL is available with two different suspension systems: the SL features semi-active adjustable damping as standard. The optional active suspension system ABC (Active Body Control) is available as an alternative.
Both suspension variants are combined with a new electromechanical Direct-Steer system featuring speed-sensitive power steering and a ratio that can be varied across the steering wheel angle. This ensures excellent straight-line stability and, therefore, a high degree of assuredness when travelling at motorway speeds and makes the SL very agile. It also reduces the amount of steering required when parking and manoeuvring.
The new V8 in the SL 500 develops 320 kW from its displacement of 4663 cc and thus around 12 percent more than its predecessor despite some 0.8 litres less displacement. The fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 22 percent. At the same time, the torque has increased from 530 Nm to 700 Nm – a gain of 32 percent. Although the displacement remains the same at 3499 cc, the new V6 engine in the new SL 350 develops 225 kW and delivers 370 Nm of torque.
It uses just 6.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, making it almost 30 percent more economical than its predecessor. Both engine variants come with a standard-fit ECO start/stop function. The 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission, which has been optimised in relation to fuel consumption and comfort, also contributes to the exemplary, low fuel consumption.
The fuel economy of the BlueDIRECT engines takes nothing away from the roadster's raciness. Quite the contrary: the SL 350 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, making it three tenths of a second faster than its predecessor. The SL 500 takes just 4.6 seconds – eight tenths less than the previous SL 500. The new SL combines its aesthetically honed profile, which follows the Mercedes-Benz tradition, with a luxurious feel. Fine materials, perfectly finished with great attention to detail, distinguish the style and character of the interior.
Compered with its predecessor, the new generation of the SL is much longer 4612 mm and wider 1877 mm , providing more room for more comfort in the interior, too. Shoulder room and elbow room have been increased, exceeding the dimensions normally found in this vehicle class. Clear lines create a formally coherent internal space within this comfortable interior.
Generously used wood trim extends from the centre console across the dashboard into the doors, creating a pleasant wrap-around effect. Three types of wood along with two different aluminium trim finishes are available. Perfectly in tune with the roadster's character, it combines the unpretentious atmosphere of a high-performance sports car with a comfortable, stylish ambience one comes to expect in a luxurious touring car.