Mercedes-Benz launches new SL Class roadster

Mercedes-Benz launches new SL Class roadster image

Text: / Photos: | posted February 17, 2006 00:00

For over 50 years now, the Mercedes models bearing the famous "SL" designation have fascinated sports-car enthusiasts all over the world. Ever since the debut of the 1954 "gullwing-door" SL, the marque has always made an impact on the premium car segment.

Mercedes Benz felt that with stiff competition looming it was time to release its newest generation SL Class. The direct descendant of the original "Gullwing" SL which made its debut in 1954, the SL-500 echoes its design and perpetuates the incomparable success story of the model series. With a worldwide market share of 33 percent, the SL-Class is the clear market leader in its segment a position which the model update will help to consolidate.

Four years from its launch, the successful Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has undergone a number of enhancements, the most significant being in the areas of technology, design and interior appointments. The engines, powertrain and chassis have been optimised to deliver a sportier response so that the unique Roadster now offers an even more enjoyable dynamic driving experience while perpetuating the "SL legend" which has existed for over 50 years. New V6 and V8 engines, as well as an upgraded V12 powerplant, deliver assured driving pleasure. Second-generation Active Body Control and the more direct steering make for noticeably sportier handling without compromising the high level of comfort which is one of the hallmarks of the SL. The redesigned front section, new rear light units and new light-alloy wheels reflect the more dynamic character of the revised SL even when it is stationary. New interior appointments as well as painstaking attention to the details of the new materials and color schemes give the interior an even more luxurious look and feel. Shift paddles on the steering wheel which form part of the optional 7G-TRONIC Sport package underline the dynamic character of the enhanced SL-Class.

With an output of 388 hp and 530 NMs of torque, the newly developed V8 engine in the SL 500 offers everything that is expected of a powerful sports car. The eight-cylinder unit has a displacement of 5.5 liters and is one of the most powerful engines in its displacement class. The SL 500 accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds (predecessor model: 6.2 seconds). Despite the 26 percent boost in performance, the fuel consumption (NEDC combined) matches that of the predecessor model at 12.2 liters per 100 kilometers. The six-cylinder engine in the SL 350 is another new unit. Although this 272 hp V6 powerplant achieves fuel savings of over one liter per 100 kilometers, its output is 11 percent higher. The combined NEDC fuel consumption is 10.3 liters per 100 kilometers.

The SL 350 accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds, making it more than half a second faster than the predecessor model. At the top of the model range is the SL 600 with its V12 bi-turbo engine. The output and maximum torque of this unit have been increased to 517 hp and 830 NMs of torque, respectively. This twelve-cylinder engine accelerates the SL-Class from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.5 seconds (predecessor model: 4.7 seconds).

All three engine variants of the SL-Class have newly developed exhaust systems: the particularly stirring and powerful engine note has been specially tuned to enhance the driving experience while still offering exceptional comfort on even the longest trips. Mercedes-Benz equips the V6 and V8 models of the new SL-Class with the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission as standard. 7G-TRONIC Sport, which is available as an optional extra, allows shifting to be performed up to 30 percent faster in manual "M" mode; furthermore, this package features steering-wheel shift paddles similar to those used in Formula 1.

The new-generation SL-Class will appear in the showrooms of Mercedes-Benz outlets and authorized dealerships starting March 2006.