THE Mercedes-benz SL name is synonymous with sports cars and has been since the middle of last century. Benz has cranked out a succession of delectable, low-slung, two-door, two seaters bearing the famous nomenclature and now there’s a new one that takes SL to a new level.
This time around it’s built entirely from aluminium except for the two steel A-pillars either side of the windscreen.
It cuts the SL’S weight by 140kg compared with the previous model and boosts safety and reduces noise, vibration and harshness.
Not only that, hi-tech 3D design makes the new SL more rigid and therefore safer and more dynamically responsive than ever. Aerodynamically, it rates an impressive 0.27Cd.
Benz says the new SL is the safest car in its class, due in part to flow-down technology from the S-class range.
The interior gets the full leather hi-tech Benz treatment with one of the best-sounding audio systems we’ve heard – even with the roof off. Internet access is provided in-car through the large information screen.
UNDER THE BONNET
It’s powered by a range of so-called BLUEDIRECT engines with Eco Stop/start offering more power, more performance and lower fuel consumption and emissions.
Our SL500 test car ran a 4.7-litre, direct-injection, twin-turbo V8 good for 320kw/ 700Nm, driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission complete with blip function on the downchange.
TECHNOLOGY & STYLING
There’s clever technology too like the “front bass” audio system that utilises apertures in the firewall to mount a pair of sub-woofer speakers for maximum effect.
There’s also “magic vision” control which adaptively helps clean the screen with banks of small water jets on each wiper.
Hands-free boot access makes an appearance as does the optional Magic Sky sunroof with variable tint.
It has the requisite body looks that owe plenty to the smaller SLK and, like its smaller sibling, the SL is all about driving fun coupled with everyday useability.
It is a car designed as much for local errands as it is for high-speed, long-distance applications.
ON THE ROAD
We had the opportunity to drive the new SL500 in Spain at the international launch and thoroughly enjoyed the open-top, wind-in-your-hair experience – who wouldn’t.
Right away the new car’s lighter weight is evident in the SL’S behaviour. It doesn’t feel big and cumbersome like the previous model did.
Still, at 1785kg, it’s no lightweight. Part of the sporty feel is attributable to the SL’S direct steering and more