Thursday 15th December 2011


You've seen the photos, now it's time for the nitty-gritty

We've already seen the pictures of the new Mercedes SL, but now it's time for the nitty-gritty details of Mercedes' new roadster.

The headlines for the new R231 are as follows: an (almost) entirely aluminium body, 140kg of weight saved over the old R230 (well, 125kg in the case of the SL500), and a new range of direct-injection engines.

The new pair of BlueDirect engines consist of a 3,499cc V6 for the SL350 and a 4,663cc twin-turbo V8 for the SL500. The new engine in the SL350 gives 306hp and 273lb ft of torque, giving it the capacity to hit 62mph from rest in 5.9 seconds, but drinks a gallon of fuel only every 41.5 miles on the official EU combined cycle (a 30 per cent improvement over its predecessor).

The V8 SL500, meanwhile, makes 12 per cent more power than the old naturally aspirated M273 engine, and 32 per cent more torque, giving it 435hp and 516lb ft of torque. That's enough for the new SL500 to manage 0-62mph in 4.6secs, shaving eight tenths of a second compared with the old model. Those are figures that are more than comparable with the old SL55 AMG, and they combine with a fuel consumption figure that's more than 20 per cent better than its predecessor's.

Both models come with Merc's 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission and are stop/start equipped.

Other tricks include 'semi-active' adjustable damping as standard, with Merc's full-on ABC Active Body Control available as an option. The steering is a new fully-electric system called Direct-Steer, a speed sensitive, variable-ratio set-up.

As with the SL before it, the new car features a fully-folding hard-top. This can raise and lower in less than 20 seconds. Unlike the old SL, however, the new car gets the SLK's Magic Sky Control as an option, a panoramic glass roof that can switch from transparent to virtually opaque at the flick of a switch.

Merc's big new gadgets for the SL, though, are FrontBass and Magic Vision Control. Magic Vision is a new 'intelligent' wipe/wash system. On it, the wiper blade concept always applies the washer fluid just in front of the wiper blade lip via the channels integrated into the blade - in both directions of wipe. As a result, no water is splashed onto the windscreen during spraying to disrupt the driver's visibility, while at the same time cleaning the windscreen perfectly. The water also remains on the windscreen.

FrontBass, meanwhile, uses the free spaces in the aluminium structures in front of the footwell as resonance spaces for the bass loudspeakers. Clever...

UK Specifications and pricing are still to be confirmed, but we do know that the SL-class will go on sale in the UK in July 2012.

Author: Riggers
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