The new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has debuted in style this week, with the online unveiling of the top-shelf SL 550 - just the ticket to take attention off those pesky leaked images and rumours of recent weeks.
As the headline act in the new SL range (outside of the AMG family, of course), the SL 550 is powered by Merc's new twin-turbo 4.6 litre V8 engine, delivering 320kW and 700Nm of torque.
Paired with a seven-speed Driver-Adaptive automatic transmission, the new engine propels the SL 550 to 60mph (96km/h) in 4.5 seconds.
Granted, that's only eight-tenths of a second quicker than the outgoing model, but there's more technical progress to consider here than just speed.
Fuel consumption figures haven't been revealed, but Mercedes promises a 22 percent improvement over the 12.0 l/100km of the previous 5.4 litre engine, thanks also to a 110kg reduction in body-shell weight and the addition of the ECO stop/start system.
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.
For Europe, standard features on the new SL will include Attention Assist and Adaptive Braking, while Active Parking Assist and the radar-based Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control and Pre Safe autonomous emergency braking will be available as optional extras.
Speaking with TMR today, Mercedes-Benz Australia's David McCarthy confirmed plans for a local debut "toward the end of June. Maybe a little later, but that's certainly what we're aiming for at this stage."
While other variants in the range have yet to be announced, Mr McCarthy said to expect "an SL 350 for sure, and a couple of AMG variants too."
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