Mercedes-Benz has just launched the latest generation of their gentlemanly roadster, the SL, at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. With the completely redeveloped SL, Mercedes-Benz continues a tradition that began 60 years ago.

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"There are around 900 million cars in the world and thousands of models,” said Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “But there are 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.”

Compared with its successful predecessor, the new Mercedes-Benz SL offers considerably more comfort and sportiness, setting new standards in the luxury roadster class. For the first time, the new SL has been produced for the first time almost entirely from aluminum, weighing up to 140 kilos less than the predecessor. Its highly rigid all-aluminum body provides the basis for agile, sporty handling that has been taken to an entirely new level, coupled with exemplary roll characteristics and ride comfort.

Even better driving dynamics come courtesy of the new BlueDIRECT engines that offer better power and, as Mercedes claims, can achieve up to 29 percent better fuel economy than the old model.

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The new V8 in the SL 500 develops 435 hp from its displacement of 4.7 liters, meaning it is more powerful (by 12%) compared to the old model while being 0.8 liters smaller. At the same time, the torque has increased from 530 Nm to 700 Nm – a gain of 32 per cent. Although the displacement remains the same at 3.5 liters, the new V6 engine in the new SL 350 develops 306 hp and delivers 370 Nm of torque.

Both engine variants come with a standard-fit ECO start/stop function. The newly optimized 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission contributes significantly to the improved fuel consumption.

The SL 350 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, making it three tenths of a second faster than its predecessor. The SL 500 takes just 4.6 seconds – eight tenths less than the previous SL 500.