Like its predecessors over the last five decades, the new Mercedes-Benz SL continues to offer S-Class luxury and innovations in a sprty roadster body. As the all-new SL-Class prepares to take the stage at the 2012 Detroit auto show, there’s no doubt the German car manufacturer faithful will have higher expectations than ever for the latest-generation of the iconic roadster.
The 2013 SL is crafted entirely from aluminum and weighing as much as 308 pounds less than its predecessor. It is power-packed with a lot of new features like the direct injection engine, for economic viability and a unique FrontBass system, for better sound. For the first time, an all-aluminum bodyshell has been implemented in a series-production model. The designers have even used lighter magnesium for the cover panel behind the fuel tank and roof.
In terms of rigidity, safety and comfort, the aluminum structure is superior to the previous model’s steel construction. One contributing factor is its intelligent lightweight construction with components optimized for their specific task. As a result, diverse processes are used to make different kinds of aluminum depending on component use.
While the styling might not be a radical departure from the R230 chassis that’s been around since 2003, the new front fascia takes the SL upright nose, an element that’s infecting the rest of the Mercedes line-up, and joins it with a more raked hood and bi-xenon headlamps with fiber optic accents and daytime running LEDs mounted low in the bumper.
Under the hood, the all-new SL will receive the 4.6-liter, direct-injected, twin-turbo, V-8 engine that has made its way throughout much of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Power is rated at 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, a significant boost to the outgoing car’s 382 hp and 391 lb-ft. Mercedes has estimated a conservative 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. Despite the performance gains, the SL will also be thriftier at the pump thanks to a revised seven-speed transmission and ECO start/stop technology.
In addition to its lighter curb weight, Benz says the SL will also be more agile courtesy of two suspension options that include parts constructed of massive and high-strength aluminum components. The Agility Control Suspension system comes standard, while the optional Active Body Control that debuted in the last-gen car will also do its part to help keep the roadster flat and planted through the curves. Finally, the 2013 SL will feature speed-sensitive, electromechanical Direct-Steering with variable ratios.
As usual, Mercedes-Benz has loaded up its premium two-seater with lots of advanced technology, some standard, some optional. The automaker’s PreSafe collision protection system, Attention Assist drowsiness detection system and Adaptive Brake, with ABS, acceleration skid control and active yaw control, are standard, as are bi-xenon headlamps with active curve illumination, corner illuminating lamps and adaptive high-beam assist.
Among the available high-tech options are Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control; PreSafe Brake, which provides autonomous partial and emergency braking when radar sensors detect an imminent collision; Active Parking Assist, which automatically steers the car into a parking space; and Hands-Free Access, which automatically opens the deck lid when the driver swipes a foot below the rear bumper.
The interior, on the other hand, is a masterwork, with more SLS-inspired elements carrying over inside, including the crosshair vents, a beautiful combination of leather, wood and carbon fiber, and a center console that blends simplicity and elegance, topping it off with a squat transmission stalk. The roof can be had with either standard glass or the Magic Sky Control available on the SLK. Mercedes claims it stows away in 20 seconds and is more cleanly integrated than the R230, along with weighing 13 pound less thanks to its partial magnesium construction.
The world premiere of the hardtop-roadster will take place at the 2012 Detroit Motor Show next month.
To coincide with the launch of the 2013 SL, Mercedes-Benz will also be offering a special-edition model, the Edition 1, for a limited period. Edition 1 comes standard with AMG 19-inch alloy wheels, exclusive leather with contrasting top-stitching, AIRSCARF, the Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound system and a few other upgrades including designo crystal silver magno special paintwork exclusive to the Edition 1. Interior upholstery is designo classic red/black with designo black piano lacquer wood trim.