2017 Mercedes-Benz SL has updated looks, now offered with more powerful engines

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 19, 2015

The Mercedes-Benz SL has already achieved iconic status and doesn’t really need the boost; nevertheless, the new 2017 SL comes with technical and aesthetic improvements that make it all the more enticing. Set to be launched in the U.S. in the spring of next year, the new SL has become even more dynamic with the availability of more powerful engines.

In addition, it is offered with the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, Active Body Control with the curve tilting function, and DYNAMIC SELECT with its five transmission modes. It’s now more versatile and is perfect for daily use with its automatic trunk separator and a vario-roof that functions even when the car is moving as fast as 25mph.

The front end is sportier with its updated hood, headlamps, and bumper. It doesn’t take much to convince a potential buyer of the Mercedes-Benz SL’s glowing qualities. It can’t be denied that it is the car that comes to mind when people imagine a stylish roadster ideal for cruising or a sporty coupe for fun out-of-town trips.

According to Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales & Marketing, the SL is suitable for everyday use and for any season but more than that, it is a “dream car” for couples to share special moments in. He also cited the new SL’s “technical perfection.”

Fans would most likely quickly notice how its front end has been modified. Its diamond radiator grille now extends downwards and it has two powerdomes that emphasize its lengthy hood. The SL’s look is also upgraded with new standard-fit LED Headlights with headlamp housing that reaches out to a bigger part of the exterior.

Its silhouette is even sportier with its bigger air outlets and wing-inspired chrome inserts in the vehicle’s wide wings. Furthermore, its exterior mirrors are located on the beltline. Let us begin the discussion on its current lineup with a description of the SL450.

Powered by a V6 engine, the SL450 has an output of 362 hp (boosted by 34 hp) and 369 lb-ft of torque at 2,000-4,200 rpm. Meanwhile, under the hood of the SL550 is a 449 hp V8 engine. The new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission has been put in charge of power distribution.

Adjusting the vehicle’s engine, suspension, transmission, and steering can be easily done with DYNAMIC SELECT. The other variants are the two Mercedes-AMG models known as the SL63 and the SL65, which is powered by a V12 engine.

Exterior Design

The athleticism of the SL has always been matched by its sporty looks. But with the new SL, this characteristic is enhanced. For instance, its front end has gotten a different look.

In quite an innovative way, its traditional features were played up. Some aspects of its design were borrowed from the 300 SL Panamericana racing car, which has a steeply raked radiator grille that extends in a downward direction.

As a result, the SL gets a face that’s unique and very different from the other models in this range. Its diamond radiator grille – a standard feature -- has a sculpted form that is a perfect complement to its now standard AMG body styling.

Its front apron has an A-wing design that comes with a front splitter painted in the same color as its body. Paying tribute to the SL’s sporting legacy are its two powerdomes on the hood, which has been given some contours that easily catch the light.

Another new SL feature is its standard-fit LED Light System that includes a headlamp housing that considerably extends to its exterior. It is shaped like a torch and it accommodates the daytime running lamp/position lamp as well as the direction indicator.

With black as the color of the edge area and the other design elements of the headlamp housing, it exudes a sense of high quality and depth. When viewed from the side, the SL shows its sporty dimensions. Its silhouette reveals an extended hood, a broad wheelbase and AMG side sill panels, and a passenger section that’s placed towards the rear.

When it comes to the details that make any vehicle stand out, the SL has plenty to offer. For example, it has bigger aesthetic air outlets with wing-like chrome inserts in in its wide vehicle wings.

When the roof is brought down, it reveals its stunning roadster contours with their frameless side windows and short A-pillars with steep angles.

Its lines are remarkably uninterrupted. Because the aerials and the roll-over bar have been fully integrated, the lines can’t be seen. Simply by pushing one button, the electric wind deflector can be either extended or retracted.

When viewing the SL from the rear, its dynamic capabilities are hinted at by its big track gauge that is emphasized by its AMG rear apron with side air intakes.

Meanwhile, the lower part of the diffuser joins together the integral tailpipe trim features with the central rear fog lamp and reversing light. Its tail lights are one piece, broad, and are colored red all throughout. These seemingly continue the flowing lines from the sides and bring them to the back.

A common feature for any Mercedes-Benz model, a horizontal design is seen with the wedge-shaped direction indicator at the top and the tail lamp as well as on the brake lamp under it. It’s now standard for the SL to have the 19” rims in a sporty 5-spoke design.

It’s offered in two new exciting colors: brilliant blue and designo selenite grey magno.

Interior Design

Its interior can be described briefly as sporty and comfortable. Among the standards that have come to define the SL are its beltlines that come with full padding and its slight gap dimensions. SL’s ambient lighting sets the mood with three colors to choose from: polar blue, solar red, and polar white.

The upper portion of the dashboard is connected to the door beltlines while its four circular air vents add to its sporty feel. The steering wheel is of the 3-spoke variety and has a top-quality finish and a magnesium build. It also has an ergonomic area for gripping.

The module that holds the airbag has a Nappa leather finish with some topstitching. Navigating the menu in the instrument cluster is done via its 12 control buttons, which also control the telephone, voice entry, and audio set-up.

There is a flat bottom part on the steering wheel rim. Manual gear changes are made possible via its silver steering wheel shift paddles. Notably, the instrument cluster has the traditional round instruments but its display is definitely modern with two tubes to display its speed and rpm.

Even the dials and pointers have been redesigned to exude athleticism. Its TFT multifunction display is cleverly located in the middle of the circular instruments. During start-up, it displays the SL’s front view. Its center console has an analogue clock, a further demonstration of its designers’ fondness for details.

Meanwhile, the instrument cluster serves as the basis for the new graphic design. Driving information is seen on the media display depending on the transmission mode chosen by DYNAMIC SELECT.

The data seen here may be longitudinal and lateral acceleration (in a G-force cross) or its torque and output. Its wide selection of leather finishes and trim materials makes it fun for the owner to put personal touches on its interior. Nappa leather and Exclusive Nappa leather continue to be offered but a new exciting option is saddle brown.

Press Release

The New Mercedes-Benz SL

New appearance for an automotive icon: The new Mercedes-Benz SL will offer customers a host of significantly enhanced technical and visual features when it launches in the U.S. in the spring of 2016. More powerful engines, the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, DYNAMIC SELECT with five transmission modes and Active Body Control with the curve tilting function all take the legend to a new dynamic level. The high suitability for everyday use has been enhanced with the vario-roof, which can now be operated at up to 25mph, and the automatic trunk separator. Visually the front end in particular is significantly sportier with an all new hood, bumper and headlamps.

The Mercedes-Benz SL is the top performer in a wide variety of disciplines: an elegant roadster for relaxed, comfortable cruising or a dynamic coupe for sporty trips on winding roads. Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales & Marketing: "The SL is an all-season vehicle that is fully suited for daily use, but above all it is a dream car for those special moments as a couple. Whatever its owner desires - it fulfils the expectations with technical perfection."

A particularly eye-catching feature of the new SL is the revised front end: the standard, unique diamond radiator grille extends downwards. Two powerdomes accentuate the long, drawn-out hood. Also adding to the unmistakable new appearance of the SL is the new standard-fit LED Headlights with headlamp housing extending far to the outside. The sporty silhouette is emphasized by the enlarged cosmetic air outlets with wing-like chrome inserts in the dynamic, broad vehicle wings and the exterior mirrors positioned on the beltline.

The model range now includes the SL450 with a V6 engine uprated to 362 hp (additional 34 hp) and 369 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,200 rpm as well as the SL550 with the powerful 449 hp V8 engine. Power transfer is handled by the new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission. With DYNAMIC SELECT the vehicle characteristics can be adjusted in seconds at the touch of a button, with the system modifying the setup of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering at the driver's command.

Additional variants include the two Mercedes-AMG models in the guise of the SL63 and SL65, the latter with a V12 engine.

Exterior design: new appearance for the athletic aesthete

The Mercedes-Benz SL has always been athletic and aesthetic at the same time. Now the designers have worked on bringing these characteristics even more to the forefront. A particularly eye-catching feature is the revised front end of the new edition of the SL: for its new appearance, traditional elements have been enhanced in an innovative and unmistakable manner. Inspiration came from the legendary 300 SL Panamericana racing car with its steeply raked radiator grille. This extends downwards, thus creating a completely individual "face" for the SL within the Mercedes-Benz model range. The grille is executed as the diamond radiator grille as standard.

The sculpted shape of the radiator grille harmonizes perfectly with the now standard AMG body styling with the front apron in an A-wing design, which features a front splitter in the vehicle color. Two powerdomes on the hood invoke the sporting heritage of the SL, while light-catching contours give additional structure to the hood.

Also adding to the unmistakable new appearance of the SL is the standard-fit LED Light System with headlamp housing extending far to the outside and torch-shaped unit comprising the daytime running lamp/position lamp and direction indicator. The edge area and other design components of the headlamp housing are retained in black - conveying a high-level of perceived quality and an effective sense of depth.

The side view of the SL reveals iconic sports car proportions, characterized by the long hood, the AMG side sill panels, the broad wheelbase and passenger compartment positioned towards the rear. Fine details create additional highlights. These include enlarged cosmetic air outlets with wing-like chrome inserts in the dynamic, broad vehicle wings.

With the roof down the SL shows off its attractive roadster contours with short, steeply angled A-pillars and frameless side windows. There is nothing to disrupt the clear lines: all aerials, as well as the roll-over bar, are fully integrated and thus not visible, while the electric wind deflector can be extended and retracted at the push of a button.

The rear of the SL suggests the high driving dynamics of the vehicle. The basis for this is the sense of width created by the large track gauge, accentuated by the AMG rear apron with side air intakes. The lower section of the diffuser incorporates the integral tailpipe trim elements as well as the centrally arranged rear fog lamp and reversing light.

The broad, one-piece tail lights are entirely colored in red and pick up the flowing lines of the vehicle sides and carry them into the rear. As is typical of the brand, they feature a horizontal design with the wedge-shaped direction indicator at the top and the tail lamp and also on the brake lamp below.

Brilliant blue and designo selenite grey magno are two new colors that are now available, and 19” rims in a sporty 5-spoke design are now fitted standard.

Interior design: sports car atmosphere in comfortable surroundings

Minimal gap dimensions and fully padded beltlines are just two examples of the top-class standards which the SL also embodies in the refined interior. The ambient lighting with three selectable colors (solar red, polar blue, polar white) ensures an emotional lighting mood. The upper part of the dashboard forms a unit with the door beltlines, and four round air vents create sporty highlights.

The three-spoke sports steering wheel has a magnesium structure and features an ergonomic grip area and a high-quality finish. The airbag module is finished in Nappa leather with topstitching. Twelve control buttons provide access to the menu navigation in the instrument cluster as well as the audio system, telephone and voice entry. The steering wheel rim has a flattened bottom section, and silver-colored steering wheel shift paddles enable manual gear changes to be made.

The instrument cluster with a 2-tube look for displaying speed and rpm combines classic circular instruments with modern display technology. Dials and pointers have a new sporty design. The driver is also greeted in style by the TFT multifunction display located between the circular instruments: on start-up it shows a front view of the SL.

Thoughtfully designed details such as the analogue clock adorn the center console. Its new graphic design is based on the instrument cluster. Depending on the transmission mode selected by DYNAMIC SELECT, the media display presents dynamic driving data: longitudinal and lateral acceleration (in a G-force cross) or torque and output.

Comprehensive individualization of the interior is possible with the broad selection of leather finishes and trim elements. Saddle brown is a newly available option now available in combination with Nappa leather and Exclusive Nappa leather.

Intelligent Drive: Driver Assistance package and LED Light System

The SL features standard Active Brake Assist, known as COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS in other model series. In addition to radar-based proximity warning and braking assistance by Adaptive Brake Assist, the Active Brake Assist system carries out autonomous braking to reduce the danger of rear-end collisions. If the driver fails to act when the risk of a collision is detected, despite the warning lamp in the instrument cluster and the intermittent audible alert, the system will initiate automatic braking. This significantly reduces the vehicle speed. At low relative speeds, this intervention may be sufficient to prevent a rear-end collision with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles.

The optional Driver Assistance package with stereo camera offers improved functions. Key components of the Driver Assistance package include:

DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist: assists the driver with maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front and staying in the center of the lane. The radar and camera-based system brakes when necessary and accelerates again, if possible, to the preset desired speed. The Steering Assist can take the strain off the driver when it comes to lateral guidance of the vehicle. On straight roads and gentle curves it generates steering torque which contributes to keeping the vehicle in the center of the lane. To achieve this, the system makes use of a stereo camera to orient itself based on clearly visible road markings and, at lower speeds, on the vehicle in front.
Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function: is able to warn the driver of impending crash situations, provide optimum support with emergency braking and, if necessary, also automatically apply the brakes itself. In addition to detecting slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles, it also detects crossing traffic at junctions, the tail end of traffic jams and pedestrians in the danger zone ahead of the vehicle.
The PRE-SAFE® Brake is able to detect not only slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles but also pedestrians to brake autonomously if the driver fails to react. As a result it helps to avoid accidents up to 31 mph and reduce their severity up to 45 mph. In flowing traffic, the PRE-SAFE® Brake provides assistance according to the same mode of operation throughout the speed range from 4 to 124 mph.
Active Blind Spot Assist: is able to warn the driver when changing lanes, for example, and can contribute to averting an impending collision by means of one-sided brake actuation.
Active Lane Keeping Assist: is able to detect unintentional lane departure, warn the driver by means of pulsating steering wheel vibrations and contribute, by means of one-sided brake actuation, to guiding the vehicle back into its lane.
PRE-SAFE® PLUS: if a rear-end collision appears imminent, the system can activate preventive measures to protect occupants. These include warning vehicles following behind and applying the vehicle brakes when at a standstill.
The standard Parking Pilot can take the strain off the driver by helping to search for a suitable parking space and making it easier to maneuver into and out of parking spaces with active steering intervention. A new feature also offers assistance with parking perpendicular to the road. The Parking Pilot includes six ultrasonic sensors in each of the front and rear bumpers which measure the size of the parking space when driving past it. In addition, the Parking Assist PARKTRONIC is also a part of the system. It provides visual and audible warnings of obstacles in front of and behind the vehicle, thus helping to avoid damage when maneuvering.

For optimum visibility on country roads and freeways, when cornering and on bends, the standard LED Light System automatically adapts to all light and driving conditions. The LED technology features low energy consumption, a long service life and a pleasant white light which approximates the daylight spectrum.

Comfort appointments: convenient operation of the vario-roof

SL fans also appreciate the sports car icon for its high suitability for everyday use. With the facelift, Mercedes-Benz has improved the comfort appointments even further. These include operation of the electrohydraulic vario-roof. If when opening or closing the roof the vehicle must move due to the traffic conditions, the process which was started when at a standstill can be continued up to a speed of approximately 25 mph.

Equally new is the automatic trunk separator. If the separator is in the upper position for increased trunk capacity, it automatically moves down when the top is opened. Conversely, the automatic trunk separator returns to the upper
position, also by means of electric operation, as soon as the trunk flap is opened.

A further practical detail in the trunk is the loading setting - the roof stowed in the trunk can move upwards by approximately 25 degrees at the press of a button. The standard KEYLESS-GO includes remote closing of the trunk lid as well as HANDS-FREE ACCESS. With this, the lid opens or closes automatically after making a kicking motion with the foot beneath the rear bumper. The automatic trunk separator additionally moves into the upper position when opening the lid to provide clear access to the loading aperture. Another feature which has been retained is the unique optional extra MAGIC SKY CONTROL: when closed, the panoramic vario-roof automatically changes from dark to transparent or vice-versa within just a few seconds.

When it comes to ambient lighting, Mercedes-Benz has opted for LED technology and has extended the color range: in addition to solar red, the colors polar blue and polar white can also be chosen. A further practical finishing touch: the stowage compartment in the center console now features two USB ports. One of the highlights is ambient lighting with projection of the brand logo.

A further special feature comes in the guise of MAGIC VISION CONTROL, the intelligent and highly efficient wash/wipe system. The innovative design of the wiper blade always delivers washer fluid immediately in front of the wipe lip, via the water feed line integrated into the blade – and it does this in both wiping directions. The result is that there is no gush of water when spraying fluid, which can impair visibility, and at the same time the maximum cleaning effect is achieved. In addition, the water stays on the windscreen, enabling convenient cleaning of the windshield even with the roof open. When the roof is open, the water is dispensed in such a way that no moisture gets into the interior. Optionally the wiper can be heated to prevent snow or ice from sticking in winter. It is with such details that the Roadster-Coupe underscores its exceptional position as a comfortable sports car suitable for all-year-round use.

With the Smartphone Integration package compatible smartphones can be integrated into the vehicle via Apple® CarPlay® and used via voice-operated control. In addition, the other vehicle controls can also be used. Safe and comfortable use on the road is always ensured.

In the case of Apple® CarPlay® for example, the system supports making and receiving calls, navigation and listening to music, receiving and sending text messages and emails as well as Siri ® voice control. The selected apps from third-party providers that are also supported include Stitcher Radio® and Spotify®.

A concert room atmosphere even with the top down as well as less bulk in the doors due to reduced installation space are ensured by the Frontbass system, which celebrated its premiere in the SL in 2012. It makes intelligent use of the free installation space in the aluminum cavities in front of the footwell as resonating chambers for the base speakers.

The standard Harman Kardon® Logic 7® surround sound system has a 10-channel DSP amplifier with a total output of 600 watts and 11 high-performance speakers including Frontbass.

An even more sophisticated sound is produced by the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG sound system. It uses a 16-channel DSP amplifier with a total output of 900 watts in conjunction with 12 high-performance speakers including Frontbass. Its twin-lens tweeters provide a futuristic show effect with LED light strips - adapted to instrument lighting. The B&O-specific COMAND Menu True Image™ enables individual special settings to be made.

Even more choice: the Curve function on the ABC suspension for the first time

The steel suspension of the standard chassis features continuously variable dampers. The driver can leave the setting of the basic characteristics of the suspension to the control electronics via DYNAMIC SELECT - from comfortable to extremely sporty in the new third Sport+ mode. The characteristics of the transmission modes:

Eco (E), fuel-efficient setting with "sailing" function
Comfort (C), comfortable setting for long journeys or on rough roads
Sport (S), sporty setting for a dynamic driving style
Sport Plus (S+), extremely sporty setting - particularly suitable for flat road surfaces
Individual (I) allows individual adjustment of the various parameters to suit the driver's requirements.
Alternatively there is another option available in the guise of Active Body Control (ABC) with curve tilting function. ABC reduces body movements when moving off, braking and cornering. The spring struts of the ABC suspension are adjusted to the respective driving conditions via plunger cylinders (via oil pressure), therefore making torsion-bar stabilizers on the front and rear axle, which can reduce comfort, unnecessary. The dampers only have to eliminate wheel vibrations and can be set up in such a way as to ensure comfort without losing any of the sportiness. In addition, the vehicle level can be adjusted to any unevenness: At higher speeds the SL is automatically lowered by 0.51 inches for more favorable aerodynamics. Conversely, at the press of a button it is possible to raise the vehicle by 1.97 inches for driving on rough roads.

On top of this there is the curve tilting function which applies a maximum of 2.65 degrees in the speed range from 9 to 112 mph. It can be set via DYNAMIC SELECT ("Curve"), noticeably reducing the effects of lateral acceleration on the vehicle occupants. The DYNAMIC SELECT transmission modes in conjunction with ABC suspension:

Curve (CV) increases ride comfort
Comfort (C) is the comfortable setting for long journeys or on rough roads
Sport (S) as a sporty setting enables a particularly dynamic driving style
Sport Plus (S+) is an extremely sporty setting - particularly suitable for flat road surfaces
Individual (I) allows individual adjustment of the various parameters to suit the driver's requirements.
Lighter and stiffer: elaborate all-aluminum bodyshell

The latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz SL takes the meaning of the well-known abbreviation "SL" – Super-Light – literally at its word. Systematic weight reduction is just as much a part of the outstanding design features of the new SL as it was for its namesake, the original SL from 1952 with its lightweight tubular frame. Here for the first time Mercedes-Benz has implemented an all-aluminum bodyshell as part of large-scale series production. Only relatively few components are made using other materials. High-strength steel tubes are integrated in the A-pillars to increase safety.

The aluminum bodyshell weighs around 220 lbs less than if it had been produced using steel technology. The aluminum structure is not only lighter, but also superior in terms of rigidity, safety and comfort. This is thanks to intelligent lightweight construction with components optimized for their respective intended purposes. For example, different types of aluminum processing are used. Depending on their function, the components are produced using gravity die casting or vacuum die casting, made from extruded sections or used as aluminum sheets of a variety of different wall thicknesses. The result is high levels of rigidity and safety as well as better vibration characteristics.

With its intelligent lightweight construction, which also comprises new bonding techniques, the SL has also become a role model for the current S-Class. The six models in the luxury class are characterized by a high percentage of strategically deployed light alloys such as aluminum or magnesium.

Tradition: a dream sports car for more than 60 years

The exceptional position occupied by the SL in the history of Mercedes-Benz is also evident from its very name: due to its iconic status, the SL has retained its tradition-rich model designation even after the introduction of the new nomenclature. For more than 60 years now, the Mercedes-Benz model range with the "SL" acronym has enthralled sports car fans around the world.

This legend has its roots in the world of motorsport: in 1952 the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194, the abbreviation stands for "Super-Light"), with its successes in international competitions, became the spark for the development of two exciting series-production sports cars in the guise of the gullwing coupe and roadster. Their birth ultimately took place in New York: it was there, at the International Motor Sports Show in February 1954, that Mercedes-Benz presented not one but two now legendary SL models: the 300 SL gullwing Coupe (W 198 I) and the open-top 190 SL (W 121). Based on the legendary "gullwing,” the open-top 300 SL Roadster (W 198 II) appeared on the market in 1957, and was built up to 1963 in parallel with the 190 SL model.

In 1963 the SL series W 113 appeared, referred to as the "Pagoda SL" on account of the characteristic shape of its hardtop roof. This was followed in 1971 by the R 107 series which – also due to the long production period of 18 years – achieved the highest production volume of all SL series to date. In March 1989 Mercedes-Benz presented the R 129 series, which was characterized by numerous technical innovations such as the sensor-controlled roll-over bar and the integral seat. It opened up a new dimension of performance for the SL and was replaced in 2001, after a production period of twelve years, by the R 230 series. The SL now sported a steel folding top and with its pronounced sportiness harked back to the unique tradition of its legendary forefather. The current generation of the SL ultimately appeared in the spring of 2012 in the guise of the R 231 series, which combines the high performance level of its predecessor with maximum levels of comfort and efficiency.

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