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Mercedes releases first details of all-new SL

Diet plan: Mercedes says the SL badge stands for ‘Sporty Lightweight”, and the new model takes this moniker very seriously indeed.

Drastic weight loss and more technology headline the redesigned Mercedes SL Roadster

23 Nov 2011

THE next-generation Mercedes-Benz SL convertible will be the first large-scale series production model in the brand’s 125-year history to feature a bodyshell comprised almost entirely of aluminium.

The German car-maker has divulged snippets of information on its all-new luxury folding-hardtop roadster ahead of its full reveal before the end of this year and likely public debut at the Detroit motor show in early January.

Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific manger of corporate communications Jerry Stamoulis told GoAuto the new SL is expected to arrive Down Under in the third quarter of 2012.

The SL – which dates back to the legendary 300SL ‘Gullwing’ model of the early 1950s – will lose its mantle as the brand’s flagship open-top model when the SLS AMG Roadster supercar lobs here in January next year, priced just under the $500k mark.

The extensive use of aluminium has allowed the car-maker to trim 140kg from the entry-level SL350 over the current fifth-generation model, which has been on the market since 2003.

The current SL350’s kerb weight tips the scales at a hefty 1825kg, meaning the new model should dip under the 1700kg mark.

Mercedes has also trimmed 125kg from the new SL500 variant, which will replace the current version that weighs in at a corpulent 1910kg.

4 center imageThe majority of this weight loss comes from the completely redesigned bodyshell, 89 per cent of which is composed of the ultra-light substance. The brand says it has stripped 110kg from this part of the car alone.

In fact, the A-pillar and roof frame are said to be the only elements of the car made of steel, while part of the rear panel employs magnesium – an element which is even lighter than aluminium.

Despite this reduction in mass, Mercedes has promised the new SL will feature increased levels comfort, performance and safety.

The bodywork, which is comprised of a mix of chill cast, vacuum die cast, stamped and extruded aluminium, is said to have 20 per cent greater torsional rigidity than the current model, with an overall torsional strength of 19,400Nm per degree.

Extrusion-moulded sections, connecting cast nodes and a double-thickness plate floor also give the new SL a super-strong passenger compartment, maximising safety in the event of a collision.

The Stuttgart marque claims this rigidity, combined with extensive use of insulation designed to overcome the higher natural sound emission and radiation levels of aluminium, makes the new SL the quietest vehicle in its class.

In a neat touch bound to save an owner the expense of touch-up paint, the car’s door hinges are friction-based and can open to infinitesimal degrees, and will remain fixed in place when there.

Mercedes has also revealed that the new SL will feature a ‘Magic Vision Control’ adaptive windscreen washer and wiper system, which traffics water to the blades via a sophisticated series of ducts.

The brand says this spares the driver from the impeded vision brought about by the splash of water on the windscreen from traditional washer jets. The blades also come with an optional heating system – handy in snowy and icy conditions.

The SL Roadster will also get a state-of-the-art FrontBass sound system that Mercedes says provides concert hall-like ambience, even with the roof retracted.

The bass loudspeakers in the new SL are located in the driver and front passenger footwells rather than in the doors, and are said to utilise the aluminium frame’s high levels of rigidity to offer precise notes with little distortion.

Details on powertrains are not known, however, the confirmed retention of the SL350 and SL500 monikers seems to indicate new versions of the current 3.5-litre V6 and 5.5-litre V8 found in the present versions.

Top-spec AMG versions are also expected to replace the current SL63 and SL65 AMG flagship variants.

Sales of the current SL – pricing for which ranges from $242,780 to $513,760 – are down 48.7 per cent this year, with Mercedes selling 20 examples to the end of October.

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