The all-new Mercedes-Benz SL range has hit Australia this week, launching with the entry-level SL 350 and top-spec SL 500.
Revealed in December, the new SL range enters as the sixth-generation model in the line, its predecessor ruling the roost from 2002 until last year.
The range kicks off at $225,000 for the SL 350 - down from $242,780 for the current model. The SL 500 is also cheaper than before, falling from $334,840 to $304,500,
Driving the entry-level SL 350 is Merc's 3.5 litre petrol V6, producing 225kW and 370Nm of torque. That's down from 232kW in the old model, but torque is up by 10 Newtons.
The new 350 promises a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds however, marking a 0.3-second improvement over its predecessor - thanks mostly to the 140kg weight loss between generations. Top speed is rated at 210km/h.
Matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission, the 3.5 litre engine lists fuel consumption at 8.3 l/100km.
In the up-spec SL 500 is the still-fresh 4.6 litre V8, delivering 320kW and a hefty 700Nm of torque - a significant increase over the 285kW and 530Nm figures of the old engine.
Again matched with a seven-speed auto, Merc promises a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.6 seconds and fuel use at 9.4 l/100km.
Both engine variants are fitted as standard with Eco Start/Stop.
The new SL is available with two different suspension systems: standard is semi-active adjustable damping, but there is also an optional active suspension system dubbed ABC (Active Body Control).
Both systems are combined with a new electromechanical Direct-Steer system, featuring speed-sensitive power steering and a ratio that can be varied across the steering wheel angle. It also reduces the amount of steering required when parking and manoeuvring.
Mercedes-Benz says the new SL's bodyshell weighs a full 110kg less than before, thanks to the extensive use of aluminium in its construction.
Overall, the new SL 500 has lost 125kg, and the SL 350 has lost 140 kilograms over its predecessor's weight.
On the styling front, the new SL blends Merc's new styling language with the grand-tourer lines of its predecessor, gaining the upright grille design and back-set headlights of the brand's latest models.
Down the profile, there's a gill and character-line design inspired by the carmaker's top-shelf SLS AMG supercar and its classic predecessors.
Inside, the 2012 SL-Class draws inspiration from the company's top-shelf SLS AMG, including the circular air-conditioning vents and the wide curved centre console.
Overhead is a new folding hardtop that opens and closes in 20 seconds.
New technologies for the SL-Class include the new Magic Vision Control wiper system, the Magic Sky Control polarising glass roof that debuted with the new SLK, and a new FrontBass system uses empty cavities in the front footwells to house a pair of bass speakers.
Standard features on the new SL include Attention Assist and Adaptive Braking, while the radar-based Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control and Pre Safe autonomous emergency braking will be available as optional extras.
Also standard is a quirky new 'kick to open' Hands-Free Access feature for the boot: if your hands are full, you merely make the gesture of kicking the rear bumper - without actually kicking it - the boot lid will open.
A second 'kick' will kill the first gesture-based command.
Compared with the outgoing model, the new SL is longer (+50 mm to 4612 mm) and wider (+57 mm to 1877 mm). Shoulder room (+37 mm) and elbow room (+28 mm) are also increased.
- SL 350 - $225,000
- SL 500 - $304,500
- SL 63 AMG - $381,500
- SL 65 AMG - $466,500
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.
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