SL gets updated - The new look certainly is more contemporary than before and does fit in well with the rest of Mercâ€™s new range in terms of design but early comments have been the front can look awkward from some angles.
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.