New models - Mercedes-Benz - S-Class
First look: Merc's slick new roadster
Engine and chassis mods aim to make Mercedes' SL roadster more inspiring to drive
24 May 2006
By TERRY MARTIN
MERCEDES-BENZ has introduced a revised version of its luxurious SL-class steel-roofed convertible, which in addition to run-of-the-mill cosmetic and interior enhancements has some notable chassis tweaks and, not before time, a new-generation 3.5-litre V6 engine.
Now priced from $214,900, the SL350 is the final Mercedes passenger car to shed the German brand’s 180kW 3.7-litre V6 for the newer four-valve 3.5-litre unit that produces 200kW and, with a 10.3L/100km fuel consumption average, is claimed to achieve fuel savings of more than 1L/100km.
The new SL350 can also out-accelerate the old model, reaching 100km/h from rest in a claimed 6.6 seconds – more than 0.5 seconds earlier than before.
Other engine changes to non-AMG SL models include the introduction of a new 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre V8 for the "volume selling" (and still $299,900) SL500 – a move that retires the old 225kW/460Nm 5.0-litre version – and extra peak output for the SL600’s 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12, which is now extended to 380kW (up 12Nm) and 830Nm (up 30Nm).
The manufacturer claims the new SL500 is 0.8 seconds faster than its predecessor over the 0-100km/h benchmark, hitting the target in 5.4 seconds and also consuming no more fuel over the combined fuel consumption standard (12.2L/100km).
Meanwhile, the SL600 can hit 100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds, 0.2 seconds earlier than before.
AMG? While the series has missed out on the new-generation (and natural-breathing) Benz-AMG 378kW 6.3-litre V8 that made its world premiere alongside the SL at the Geneva motor show earlier this year – and is now not due for the flagship roadster until at least 2008 – Mercedes has seen fit to increase performance of the 5.4-litre supercharged V8 in the SL55 AMG model to 380kW (up 12kW) and 720Nm (up 20Nm).
A higher-speed supercharger compressor and a larger throttle valve are the main modifications here and, like the SL600, enable the car to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds – another improvement of 0.2 seconds.
The 450kW/1000Nm 6.0-litre V12 bi-turbo engine in the SL65 AMG model is unchanged – and is still enough for Mercedes to claim it as the most powerful production roadster in the world.
Non-AMG SL V6 and V8 models are also now equipped with Benz’s 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission, and can be ordered with a faster-shifting Sport version with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
Chassis modifications to the SL series include the fitment of second-generation Active Body Control suspension (optional on SL350) that is claimed to reduce body movement in "dynamic driving situations" by up to 60 per cent.
The steering has a more direct ratio and new "valve control logic" designed to make the roadster feel more responsive, while the brakes on the SL350 and SL500 have been upgraded in accordance with the increased performance.
Cosmetic enhancements include a revised grille and front bumper, different tail-lights and new alloy wheel designs. Cabin changes include new materials and colour schemes, and new aluminium-look switchgear.
Standard features across the range now include parking radars and bi-Xenon headlights, while the SL500 gains a BOSE stereo and the SL600 gains Lingatronic voice control.
AMG models get a TV tuner and the SL55 AMG gains an interior motion sensor.
An optional remote bootlid release system is also now available across the range.
2006 Mercedes-Benz SL pricing:SL350 - $214,900
SL500 - $299,900
SL600 - $374,900
SL55 AMG - $374,900
SL65 AMG - $457,900
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