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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mercedes SL Facelift Revealed

Mercedes-Benz has just released details about the reworked SL range. We brought you leaked images of the new model last week, which showed a much more aggressive front end that resembles the headlights on the CLS and the grill of the CL. The new look certainly is more contemporary than before and does fit in well with the rest of Merc’s new range in terms of design but early comments have been the front can look awkward from some angles. Not much has changed at the rear in terms of design.

The SL is the world’s most successful premium roadster and has been in production since 1954 with the introduction of the 300 SL (Gullwing). In total, Mercedes-Benz has produced more that 630,000 SL roadsters. Mercedes-Benz describes the SL as sports car and while that might have been an apt description with the original models, there are those who believe that over the years the SL has grown to be more of a luxurious grand tourer than outright sports car, AMG models aside.

Engine options include two six-cylinder models, the SL 350 and a new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp). The stalwart SL 500, with a V8 engine, and SL 600, with a V12 engine, will also feature in the new range.

Open-top drivers in cold climates will also appreciate that the SL now features the AIRSCARF system, introduced on the SLK. The interior has also been updated with a greater emphasis on the quality of the materials used. In particular, the more prominent stitching, such as on the console, makes the SL better prepared when compared to direct rivals, like the Aton Martin Vantage Roadster.

News on the handling front is that SL features a new direct steer system. The new system has variable rack ratio, which, compared to a constant ratio steering system, means that the driver does not have to move the steering wheel as much when cornering. According to Mercedes, this means that the car's response is more direct and that means that the drive will be sportier.

Speed-sensitive power steering is combined with the new system when driving slowly or parking to make it easier to park or maneuver thanks to the large ratio. We’ll have to wait for the road-tests to see if the new steering works as well in practice as it does in theory. The most interesting new feature is the Intelligent Light System, which provides five different light functions. According to Mercedes-Benz, these functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations and weather conditions.

The different modes include: country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog lamps, cornering light function and active light function. The variable-control bi-xenon headlamps activate the various light functions automatically. With the motorway mode, for example, is activated in two stages when the speed of the car exceeds 90 km/h and increases the driver's range of vision by up to 60 percent.

Familiar Mercedes-Benz tehnology like the Command and Linguatronic (voice operating) system also feature while convenience features, like Keyless-Go are now standard. The facelifted SL-Class will introduced in March at the Geneva Motor Show and will land in European dealerships in April 2008.

Press Release

Sportier than ever before

Mercedes-Benz will continue its long tradition of producing legendary sports cars when it launches the new-generation SL-Class in spring 2008. The world's most successful premium roadster in its class features a new design with the emphasis firmly on sportiness and effortless assurance. These traits are also reflected in the handling qualities of the two-seater model, which now delivers even more athletic performance thanks to the new direct-steer system as well as offering enhanced comfort and safety. The SL 350 is powered by a newly developed, extremely high-revving sports engine boasting an impressive output of 232 kW/316 hp yet returns a fuel consumption figure that is 0.4 litres per 100 kilometres lower than that of its predecessor (NEDC). The SL range will now feature two six-cylinder models in the shape of the SL 350 and the new SL 280 (170 kW/231 hp) as well as the familiar SL 500 with a V8 engine and the top-of-the-range SL 600 with a V12 powerplant. The Mercedes sports car extends its lead in the safety stakes courtesy of bi-xenon headlamps, included as standard, and the Intelligent Light System whose light functions are designed specifically for typical driving situations. Further new features on board include AIRSCARF neck-level heating. This system - invented by Mercedes-Benz and available as an optional extra - enhances comfort when driving with the roof down, extending the roadster season until well into the winter months. SL passengers are kept informed and entertained by the standard-fit COMAND multimedia system, which has also been fully redeveloped and features additional functions.

The new-generation SL caps a glorious history of Mercedes sports cars, which began in 1954 with the introduction of the legendary 300 SL "Gullwing", followed in 1957 by the launch of the first SL Roadster. To date, the Stuttgart manufacturer has produced a total of over 630,000 SL sports cars.

Like its predecessors, the new-generation SL also merits its "incomparable" tag. No other sports car in this market segment offers such a perfect balance of sportiness, safety and comfort. These three qualities are the cornerstones of highly eventful, active motoring that provides a profound sense of well-being - for hallmark Mercedes refinement at the highest, sportiest level.

New design idiom with unmistakable sporty overtones

When it came to developing a concept and design for the new-generation SL Class, the Mercedes-Benz engineers set out with the aim of accentuating the Roadster's sporty attributes even more strongly than before. This aspiration is reflected in the new front-end design featuring as its centrepiece a wide and, therefore, very dominant radiator grille whose V shape symbolises sporty virtues such as forwards thrust and performance potential.

A horizontal louvre makes the radiator grille appear wider and, in doing so, emphasises the powerful aspect of the SL's front end, making it seem surprisingly new yet also very familiar. By using expressive stylistics in this way, the Mercedes designers are able to forge a link with the SL's history and create a front-end design that is reminiscent of the earlier SL Roadster models, which also expressed their poise and assurance through wide, very distinctive radiator grilles. Hence the front-end design of the new-generation SL shows Mercedes-Benz taking the styling of the legendary sports car to the next level.

The designers also pay homage to the forefather of the SL model series: the two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are unmistakable hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation for the new Mercedes sports car.

These classic design features drawn from five decades of roadster tradition are in stylish harmony with new elements of the modern Mercedes design idiom, including the distinctive V-shape of the front section and, above all, the headlamps, which are drawn deeply into the flanks, thus further emphasising the impression of breadth at the front end. As well as giving the SL a highly contemporary look, this striking headlamp design also sees the Roadster continuing its traditional role as a trendsetter. Just like its predecessors, the new generation SL features a front-end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.

At the rear, too, the new-generation SL demonstrates its sporty nature even more clearly than before. This is achieved above all by a new, diffuser-look bumper which adds a motorsport touch. In conjunction with the equally new trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes this design element emphasises the width of the body, further symbolising the power just waiting to be unleashed by the roadster.


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