Last night at the Detroit Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the next generation of its iconic SL roadster. Meet the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL:
Press release: The all-new 2013 SL continues a tradition that began 60 years ago. For six decades the letters “SL” have been synonymous with a blend of sport, style and comfort – infused with groundbreaking innovation. For the first time, the SL is being produced almost entirely from aluminum and consequently weighs considerably less than its predecessor. Its highly rigid all-aluminum bodyshell provides the basis for agile, sporty handling that has been taken to an entirely new level, coupled with outstanding bodyroll and ride characteristics. Even better driving dynamics come courtesy of the new direct injection engine, which is more powerful and economical than the outgoing generation. Other new features include the unique Frontbass system, which turns the luxury sports car into a concert hall – with the top down or up – and the highly efficient MAGIC VISION CONTROL. The 2013 SL550 will be available in U.S. showrooms this spring.
Compared with its successful predecessor, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL offers considerably more comfort and athletic character, setting new standards in the luxury roadster class. This includes amazing everyday usability, making the SL the most versatile of all sports cars. In short, anyone talking about the new SL is surely talking about the ultimate in passionate, refined motoring.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “There are around 900 million cars in the world and thousands of models. But there is only a handful of automotive icons. Our SL is one of them: It has class, it has style, it is the ultimate in comfort and luxury. And it combines all that with an incredibly sporty and dynamic character. You would struggle to find a car that embodies Gottlieb Daimler’s aspiration more perfectly than our new SL – the best or nothing.”
Lighter and more rigid – sophisticated all-aluminum bodyshell
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL takes the meaning of the famous letters “SL” – super lightweight – quite literally. Weight reduction across the board is one of the most outstanding design characteristics of the new SL, as was the case for its namesake, the original SL of 1952 with its lightweight tubular frame. For the first time, Mercedes-Benz has implemented an all-aluminum bodyshell in a seriesproduction model. Only very few components are made from other materials. The designers used even lighter magnesium for the cover panel behind the fuel tank and roof. High-strength steel tubing is integrated into the A-pillars for added safety.
The new aluminum bodyshell weighs around 242 pounds less than it would using the steel technology of its predecessor. “The effect is as if a large passenger has stepped out of the car” says Dr. Thomas Rudlaff, responsible for the aluminum bodyshell at Mercedes-Benz. “The result is perceptible and measurable. Less weight means improved performance and efficiency. In other words, the driving pleasure increases and the environmental impact decreases.”
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. The parts are made by chill casting or vacuum die casting, worked into extruded aluminum sections or into aluminum panels of varying thickness. The outcome – high rigidity and excellent safety combined with low resonance and vibrations.
The new SL is even more comfortable and has more assistance systems on-board than its predecessor, sacrificing some of the weight saved through the aluminum bodyshell as a result. Nevertheless, the scales show some astonishing readings – the 2013 SL550 weighs around 275 pounds less than its predecessor. This is due to a host of other intelligent details that Mercedes-Benz has also implemented in the new SL in addition to the aluminum bodyshell.
Driving pleasure – powerful engine and agile suspension
Powerful acceleration, effortless at all speeds, nimble on winding roads – the new SL delivers outstanding driving pleasure. As well as a powerful engine, the SL550 boasts a fine suspension that is both sporty and comfortable, and also features intelligent lightweight construction. The steering knuckles and suspension arms on the front axle, for instance, are also made from aluminum to reduce the unsprung masses. The same applies to virtually all the suspension components on the rear axle.
The new SL is available with two different suspension systems – with the Agility Control Suspension as standard equipment. The ABC (Active Body Control) suspension system is available as an option.
Both suspension variants are combined with a new electromechanical Direct- Steer system featuring speed-sensitive power steering and a ratio that can be varied in accordance with steering wheel angle. This provides excellent directional stability and safety when traveling at highway speeds, and adds to the SL’s agility. It also reduces the amount of steering effort required when parking and maneuvering.
The new V8 in the SL550 develops 429 hp from its displacement of 4663 cc, which is around 12 percent more than its predecessor despite some 0.8 liters less displacement. Fuel consumption has been reduced while at the same time the torque has increased from 391 lb-ft to 516 lb-ft – a gain of 32 percent. The engine features an ECO stop/start function as standard equipment, while the 7-Speed Driver-Adaptive automatic transmission has been optimized for fuel consumption and comfort. The fuel economy of the direct injection engine does not detract in any way from the roadster’s sporty character. Quite the opposite in fact – the SL550 takes just 4.5 seconds from 0 to 60 mph – eight tenths less than the previous SL550.
Interior – aesthetic, stylish, sporty
The 2013 SL combines its finely honed profile with a luxurious feel. Premium materials, perfectly finished with great attention to detail define the style and character of the interior.
Compared with its predecessor, the new-generation SL is much longer (+1.97 inches) and wider (+2.24 inches), providing more room for greater comfort in the interior, too. Shoulder room (+1.46 inches) and elbow room (+1.10 inches) have been increased, exceeding the norm for this class of vehicle. Clear lines create a coherent look & feel in this comfortable interior. A generous sweep of fine wood trim extends from the center console across the dashboard into the doors, creating a pleasant wrap-around effect. A choice of two wood trims is available. Perfectly in tune with the roadster’s character, the interior combines the unpretentious atmosphere of a high-performance sports car with the comfortable, stylish ambience you might expect from a luxurious touring car.
Design – classic SL proportions
The designers have brought the latest generation of the SL to life with a firm foundation in tradition, but with new perspectives and visions. The result is a stylishly sporty and elegant luxury sports car with balanced proportions that are classic SL. The long hood gives way to a compact passenger compartment that is set well back. A wide, powerful rear end with a strong racing character provides the finishing touch. Just a few carefully drawn lines define the powerfully sculpted, yet calm surfaces along the flanks. Finely crafted details, a striking rear end plus ventilation grilles with chromed fins from the dynamic tradition of the Mercedes-Benz heritage evoke the SL legend.
An upright classic sports car radiator grille clearly identifies the new SL as a prestigious member of the current Mercedes-Benz sports car lineup. The centrally positioned star is a contemporary reinterpretation of the famous trademark, and now extends into the center section with its organically flowing contours.
Dynamically slanting headlamps set well to the outside frame the striking front end and give the new roadster its own unmistakable face. The Bi-xenon headlamps come with active curve illumination and corner illuminating lamps as a standard feature, as well as Adaptive Highbeam Assist. With different lighting functions tailored to typical driving and weather conditions and activated in accordance with the driving situation, they offer the driver a much better illuminated field of vision. The striking sidelights and the horizontal line of the daytime running lamps in the far ends of the bumper feature LED technology.