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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - SL-class

First look: Benz presents facelifted SL Roadster

Front-end loaded: Single-bar grille and new headlights give the revised SL-class a different look.

New front-end styling points the way to Mercedes’ next-generation sedans

1 Feb 2008

MERCEDES-Benz has released details and photos of a heavily facelifted SL-class Roadster with a front-end design the company says points the way to the styling of its future sedans.

The new-look SL will make its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month, with sales starting in Europe in April and in Australia from July.

Mechanically, the big news for the SL range is the introduction of a new entry-level SL280 model while the V6 engine in the SL350, currently the cheapest Australian model at $218,000, gets a significant boost in performance.

The new SL two-seater features a heavily reworked front-end that is instantly identified by a large single chrome bar across the face of a widened grille, giving the car a more American look than the current car’s more delicate three-bar grille.

Also gone are the distinctive twin round headlamps, along with the contours that followed them over the wheelarches.

The new integrated headlamp units are a combination of curves and sharp edges and sit alongside a more prominent grille while the more raised bonnet has two extra “powerdomes” that are designed to be reminiscent of the famed original 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1954.

4 center imageThe company claims that “the front-end design of the new-generation SL shows Mercedes-Benz taking the styling of the legendary sportscar to the next level”.

“By using expressive stylistics in this way, the Mercedes designers are able to forge a link with the SL’s history and create a front-end design that is reminiscent of the earlier SL Roadster models, which also expressed their poise and assurance through wide, very distinctive radiator grilles,” the company said.

“The designers also pay homage to the forefather of the SL model series: the two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are unmistakable hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation for the new Mercedes sportscar.

“The new-generation SL features a front-end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.”

Matching the more prominent lower intake in the front airdam is a new diffuser-look rear bumper to give the car a racier look, as do new trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes.

The new SL280 model is powered by the 3.0-litre V6 engine seen in the C-class sedan, which develops 170kW of power (30kW less than the current SL350) and 300Nm of torque from 2800rpm, pushing the SL280 from rest to 100km/h in 7.8 seconds. Fuel consumption is listed at 9.4L/100km.

The revised 3.5-litre V6 in the SL350 has 16 per cent more power at 232kW (at 6500rpm) while torque also rises, by 10Nm to 360Nm. At 6.2 seconds, it is 0.4s faster to 100km/h than the current SL350, but fuel consumption is lower than before, dropping by 0.4L to 9.9L/100km on the European cycle.

The standard seven-speed automatic transmission has also been reworked with a new double-declutching function that is activated during manual downshifts for smoother and sportier driving.

Still topping the SL range are the 5.4-litre 285kW/530Nm V8-engined SL500 and the twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 380kW/720Nm SL600 flagship.

Power outputs for both these models are unchanged in the new generation, but the Mercedes engineers have been able to slash 0.4L/100km from their heavy fuel consumption figures.

Introduced on the new SL is variable-ratio steering, which means that the driver does not need to turn the wheel as much for cornering as for parking, so it feels more direct.

Inside the revised cockpit, Mercedes has made the SL Roadster more comfortable by introducing its neck-level heating system that the company says effectively extends the roadster season well into winter.

Called AIRSCARF, it distributes warm air through the head restraints, forming a warm, invisible ‘scarf’ around the driver and front passenger.

Although presented for the first time in the SLK Roadster in 2004, the system has been refined with the blower and heating now incorporated in the head restraints of the integral seats.

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