Mercedes unveils ultra-luxe roadster

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the fifth generation of its oldest continuously-running model, the SL-Class.

Although the SL has been neither ‘sporty’ or ‘lightweight’ for many years – despite M-B still championing the famous designation – this all-new mega-luxe roadster is the first to feature a body made entirely of aluminium, helping reduce weight by 140kg compared with its predecessor. Despite the weight-loss diet, the new SL is a full 57mm wider and 50mm longer than the outgoing fourth-gen model. Beyond the lavish SLS-inspired cabin and sharp-edged big-SLK styling, buyers can now choose between a metal hard-top, hard-top with sunroof, or a glass roof. Each drops in 20 seconds.

The flagship (for now) SL500 scores a new 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8 that, compared with the old atmo 5.5-litre, is more powerful (kiloWatt count is up 12 percent to 320, while Newton’s finest increases by 32 percent to 700) and frugal (emissions down 22 percent). The entry-level SL350 gets the same 225kW 3.5-litre direct-injected V6 that recently debuted in the CLS, its 6.8L/100km combined fuel sticker rivalling the low consumption of many performance diesels. Both V6 and V8 engines team with a seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic.

In the US, SL-Class sales dropped from 13,717 in 2002 to just 2385 last year. With GFC nightmares fading, it will be interesting to see whether this bigger, lighter, more powerful SL will lure the mega-wealthy business elite back into Mercedes-Benz showrooms…

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