There are a number of automotive icons, but only few cars has a cult following like the Mercedes SL has enjoyed. The one and only 300 SL which was first born to win the Le Mans race in 1952, went into series production in 1954, and, since then the legendary model series has retained its iconic status with the auto lovers and collectors alike. The SL model series has now evolved from a sports coupe to the 6th-generation convertible with an all-new look and performance.
The German automobile leader has rose to the occasion to give a radically new makeover to its sixth generation SL, which indeed is counted as the best in the two-seater convertibles. The new SL class has not just went under the knife to come out lightweight, athletic and luxurious, shedding those extra kilograms (175lbs.), but has been considerably loaded with hi-tech goodies to make it the safest sports car in the world.
Our Tete-a-Tete with the new-generation SL happened in Marabella, Spain, where we got to test drive the lightest Mercedes-Benz SL class on the beautiful roads of Andalusia.
The first look of the car didn’t impressed me most, for you can never get over the memories of the timeless beauty of the 50’s SL with gullwing doors, but the option to drive the special edition 1 model changed all that. The smell of Nappa leather, the fine red stitching besides the bells and whistles (read massage, heat wave for the neck…) rang the materialistic bells for me.
Perhaps, this is not the most beautiful car ever created, but the idea behind was to make it the ultimate car in its segment, which boasts an impeccable mix of a luxury sedan with its sporty design, making it an all-rounder and perfect for everyday lifestyle needs, not just on the race tracks, but also for commuting to work.
The Diamond white finish of the car was in perfect contrast to the Scarlett-red interiors, and inviting enough to start the ride, more so there is nothing better than feeling the wind in your hairs on a sunny day. A quick demo of the new and improved features in the car was followed by a fun drive behind the wheel of what is the dream car for many.
The new Mercedes-Benz SL 500 features a BlueDIRECT V8 engine with 7G-Tronic plus automatic transmission. The car can go from 0 to 60 in just 4.5 sec, and has twin turbos to deliver 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, all of which you are able to experience as soon as you push the right paddle. While the speed limits and traffic lights didn’t let me pick up the speed unless I touched the highways. I was quite impressed with the amazing new features Mercedes-Benz has loaded this one with, including the fuel-saving new ECO-Stop/Start system, which automatically shuts off the engine at stoplights and in other idle situations. And, as soon as you lift off the brake, the engine instantly restarts, for immediate acceleration response. The Active lane keeping assist feature too was of great help (especially when you come from a right-hand side driving country).
But, once you break free from the city traffic and head out into the countryside, the SL becomes a real driver’s car. Engineered specifically for performance driving, the SL's new electromechanical power steering delivers crisp feedback and clear control for a great maneuverability, whether cornering, or cruising. Agility control automatically adjusts the individual shock absorbers based on the road surface and the driver's current driving style.
Besides the key to drive safely in SL500 was easy, as the car we chose was the one with all the optional safety features included like; the first system of its kind, Attention Assist, which continuously monitors your driving behavior based on pre-defined parameters, and can automatically alert the driver with both visual and audible warnings if it detects signs of drowsiness on long trips. Though, the car was not fun in driving on its own as much as it is under control, but the new SL class is indeed all about safety, dynamics and pleasure of driving.
Along with the impressive new design, the new SL features some of the latest technologies developed by Mercedes, making it a powerful roadster.
Highlights over its predecessor:-
The new “SL” (Super Light) has a radically reduced weight; up to 140 kilograms less than its predecessor. For a sports car to be this light, Mercedes has set a benchmark in the luxury roadster segment.
The silhouette features a seamless body with no traditional separation between bumper and radiator grill. The other features over and above its predecessor includes a totally revamped seven-inch TFT color display, flanked by air vents and the gear knob with a perforated top design and a curved silhouette covered in Nappa leather.
* Magic Sky control – panoramic vario-roof that can be switched from dark to light at the touch of a button, depending upon your mood and the weather. Besides, it takes just 20 seconds to fully open or close the roof.
*The roadster also boasts a new sound era with the integration of innovative speaker technology by Harman Kardon. Harman and Mercedes-Benz have collaborated to revolutionize the music experience with the exclusive Frontbass technology for an optimum open-top sound performance and noise reduction. For the first time, the two woofers are built into the footwell, away-from-the-sight, in contrast to the traditional method of integrating the speakers in the doors, offering an extremely clear and distortion-free bass even when driving open-top, while also freeing up new space in the car for the designers of the new SL class. The new Frontbass system includes a Logic surround sound system with six 50 watt and 100 mm midrange speakers and a 600 watt class-D amplifier.
Safety & Engineering:-
The new SL boasts a range of intelligent features to let you drive comfortable and safe. The driving assistance system highlights includes, Attention Assist with Distronic Plus, active lane keeping assist and active Blind Spot assist. What we loved is the coffee-cup icon, which goes red when it senses fatigue and warning beeps, which keeps driving in lane much easier.
* Magic Vision control, the new wash/wipe system, which directs the washer fluid straight to where it is required by following the windscreen wipers’ direction of movement and spraying it onto the windscreen in front of the wiper’s blade.
Unfortunately, this new feature didn’t do much for us, failing to remove the insect stains and dirt during our test drive session.
* Speed limit assist with Command Online
* Active parking assist with Magic vision control
* Neck-pro crash responsive head restraints along with redesigned side bags in both the seats to keep you safe and secured when taking a sharp turn.
*Interiors:- The SL 500 Edition 1 we got to drive had a Diamond white finish with red interiors, and Nappa leather upholstery is further accentuated with red stitching. In comparison to the old SL-class models, the new version bears a completely new silhouette, retaining the dynamic traits of the generation, but with a distinctive look and feel. The “Color me Red” approach was again taken to appeal to fuel the Scarlett fever with matching interiors to the Scarlett-red nail paint.
* The optional massage feature and Airscarf option that blows warm air around the neck to relax your neck, besides the standard warming/cooling of the seat.
* Sun-reflecting leather upholstery
* “One Step Access” – a feature which enables the boot lid to be opened and closed by making a kicking motion without even touching the trunk. Mercedes Design head, Brauchle Jurgen told us that the idea behind this revolutionary “One Step Access” was to appeal to the shopaholic ladies, eliminating the need of help to open the trunk even when their hands are full with the shopping bags after a retail therapy to a Gucci store.
Behind the seats, there is a small storage area where the driver and passenger can stow a purse or a bag if needed. On the other side, there is still room for two golf bags in the boot.
The new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL is all about the experience of driving a Mercedes, after all, a little more torque, better pick up, 1 second faster than its predecessor, does not affect the buying decision of the one percent of the society whom the car is targeted at! The Sultan of Brunei has almost 600 Mercs in his garage. One whole section of his hangar is dedicated for storing the world's most exclusive and rarest Mercs, even the gold-plated Mercedes.
The new Mercedes SL class will be produced in a limited edition of 700 cars by the end of year 2012, after which Mercedes will stop the production, making it even more exclusive. The AMG version of the new SL-class is also in works, which will be priced around 200,000 euros and will probably make it debut by fall this year. The SL 500 special edition version will go on sale for about 130k euros to 150,000 euros.
And for those who like to custom order everything in their car, Mercedes is always willing to help you realize your custom preferences through its Individual program.