Lighter, leaner, sportier and more efficient, the new SL is built almost entirely of aluminium and powered by Mercedes-Benz BlueDIRECT direct-injection engines which have improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions by up to 30 per cent compared with the previous model, while delivering even more performance.
The SL 350 is powered by a BlueDIRECT 3.5-litre V6 engine. This direct injection 3,498 cc power plant is 30 per cent more economical than before, yet with 306 hp at 6,500 rpm and 370 Nm of torque at 3,500 - 5,250 rpm it also delivers sharper performance, accelerating the two-seater to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds and onto a 155 mph electronically limited top speed. This thrilling performance is complemented by excellent combined economy of 37.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 176 g/km.
Performance and economy figures for the SL 500 are equally impressive. The 4,663 cc BlueDIRECT V8 engine - which combines direct injection and twin-turbo technologies - develops 435 hp at 5,250 rpm and an impressive 700 Nm of torque that is available from a low 1,800 rpm to 3,500 rpm. The 1,785 kg SL 500 will sprint to 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds, and like the SL 350 is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Even with the increase in power and torque over the outgoing model, the efficiency of the SL 500 has improved by 26 per cent, now returning 30.7 mpg on the combined cycle, while emitting 214 g/km of CO2.
The new SL-Class saves water as a result of the MAGIC VISION CONTROL intelligent wash/wipe system which is fitted as standard. This applies the ideal amount of washer fluid to the screen just in front of the wiper blades to ensure the driver's visibility is not impaired during cleaning and occupants are not splashed when the roof is down.
New and unique Frontbass speakers use the space in the aluminium footwells of the new SL-Class as resonance chambers, filling the cabin with concert hall-quality bass sounds and freeing space in the door panels. The new SL-Class also offers buyers HANDS-FREE ACCESS to the boot, as part of the optional Keyless-Go Comfort Package.By waving a foot under the rear bumper, the luggage compartment can be opened or closed - a world first.
The new SL-Class keeps its classic sports-roadster proportions, with a long bonnet and set-back cabin, yet is longer, wider and lower than before. It continues the tradition of innovation that stretches back 60 years to the racing prototype, which led to the legendary 300 SL "Gullwing".
The SL's aluminium construction - a first for a Mercedes-Benz series production car - reduces weight by up to 140 kg, despite significant increases in safety and luxury features. The only non-aluminium body parts are the magnesium sections of the rear floor and the high-strength steel implants in the front windscreen pillars for peerless open-top safety.
The body is also significantly stiffer than that of the previous model. This provides an ideal platform for the chassis - which features semi-active adjustable damping or optional Active Body Control, and Direct Steer speed-sensitive power steering - to deliver more nimble and sporty responses with no sacrifice in comfort.
The new SL-Class can justifiably claim to be the safest roadster in the world as a result of its comprehensive standard protection features, which include PRE-SAFE, NECK-PRO, ATTENTION ASSIST and ADAPTIVE BRAKE. The pro-active DISTRONIC PLUS AND PRE-SAFE BRAKE are among the optional safety features. More than ever, the Mercedes-Benz SL lives up to Gottfried Daimler's ethos: "The Best or Nothing."