After the first official photos of the all-new 2013 SL hit the web on Tuesday, it was only a matter of time before Mercedes-Benz itself disclosed all the juicy details about its new luxury roadster model, which will make its official world premiere at the Detroit Motor Show in January.
For starters, the new SL, code-named R321, is the first mass-production Mercedes car built almost entirely from aluminum, with the same material used for the multi-link front and rear suspensions. As a result, its weight has been reduced by up to 308 pounds (140 kg) compared to its predecessor.
Using aluminum has not only reduced weight, but also increased agility providing sportier handling characteristics.
Dr. Thomas Rudlaff, who was responsible for the new aluminum bodyshell, said: "The result is perceptible and measurable. Less weight means improved performance and efficiency. In other words, the driving pleasure increases and the environmental impact decreases."
The 2013 SL will be available with two different suspension setups, both of which will feature the Agility Control Suspension system as standard and the Active Body Control system as an option. They are combined with a new electromechanical, speed-sensitive power steering called Direct-Steer that reduces the effort required by the driver in low-speed maneuvers and increases its weight and feel at high speeds.
In Europe, the new SL will initially be offered with two direct injection gasoline engines, both of which send power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The SL 350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with an output of 302HP and 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) of torque. Despite being less powerful than the previous SL 350, the increased torque along with the reduced weight make it 0.3 seconds faster in the 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint while, at the same time, recording an average consumption of just 5.6 lt/100 km (42 mpg US).
The second unit is a twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8 “borrowed” from the current S-Class, with 429HP and 699.6 Nm (516 lb-ft) of torque, which powers the SL500 (SL550 in the US market, where it will available next spring).
The 4,663 cc V8 is 12 percent more powerful and produces 32 percent more torque than its predecessor, despite losing almost 0.8 liters in displacement. It accelerates Merc’s latest roadster from standstill to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4.6 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz claims that the new SL could have been even lighter, if not for the extended use of advanced systems.
These include the driver drowsiness detection system Attention Assist and the Adaptive Brake, both of which are standard. The Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control and the Pre Safe autonomous emergency braking system are optional.
The retractable hard top sports a rigid and light magnesium frame and it takes less than 20 to open or close the roof completely. It is available in two versions: glass or the panoramic “Magic Sky Control” introduced in the 2012 SLK that changes its transparency at the touch of a button.
The FrontBass system, which uses the aluminum chassis for enhancing the audio system’s bass output and optimize acoustics, and the Magic Vision Control windscreen cleaning system that houses the water injectors inside the wiper blades, have already been revealed in detail in Merc’s earlier release.
Mercedes-Benz will also offer a limited-edition version of the 2013 SL named the "Edition 1". It features AMG 19-inch alloy wheels, designo exclusive leather with contrasting topstitching, AIRSCARF and a Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound system.
It will be painted in an “Edition 1”-exclusive “designo crystal silver magno” color, while the interior upholstery is designo classic red/black exclusive with designo black piano lacquer wood trim.
In the U.S., the 2013 SL550 will arrive in showrooms in the spring of 2012.