SL-Class (R 230)

Much more than just a “normal” facelift: The new-generation SL-Class:  sportier than ever before

  • New design idiom with unmistakable sporty overtones
  • New, dynamic direct-steer system
  • New, particularly free-revving sports engine 

Mercedes-Benz is continuing its long-standing tradition of producing legendary sports cars with the new-generation SL-Class.  No other sports car in this market segment offers such a perfect balance of sportiness, safety and comfort. These three qualities are the cornerstones of thrilling, active motoring that provides a profound sense of well-being – for hallmark Mercedes refinement at the highest, sportiest level.  The world’s most successful premium roadster in its class now features a new look which gives the car a distinct air of sportiness and effortless assurance.

When it came to developing a concept and design for the new-generation SL-Class, the Mercedes-Benz engineers set out with the aim of accentuating the roadster’s sporty attributes even more strongly than before. This aspiration is reflected in the new front end design, featuring as its centrepiece a wide and, therefore, very imposing radiator grille, whose arrow shape symbolises sporty virtues such as the car’s go-getting performance potential.

A horizontal fin adds visual width to the radiator grille and thereby emphasises the muscular appearance of the SL’s front end, which consequently seems surprisingly new yet, at the same time, reassuringly familiar.  By using expressive stylistics in this way, the Mercedes designers are able to forge a link with the SL’s history and create a front end design that is reminiscent of the earlier SL Roadster models, which also expressed their poise and assurance through wide,  very distinctive radiator grilles.  Hence the front end design of the new-generation SL shows Mercedes-Benz taking the styling of the legendary sports car to the next level.  The designers also pay homage to the forefather of the SL model series:  the two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are unmistakable hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation for the new Mercedes sports car.

These classic design features drawn from five decades of roadster tradition are in stylish harmony with new elements of the modern Mercedes design idiom, including the distinctive V-shape of the front section and, above all, the headlamps, which are drawn deeply into the flanks, thus further emphasising  the impression of breadth at the front end. As well as giving the SL a highly contemporary look, this striking headlamp design also sees the Roadster continuing its traditional role as a trendsetter. Just like its predecessors, the new-generation SL features a front end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.

At the rear, too, the new-generation SL demonstrates its sporty nature even more clearly than before. This is achieved first and foremost by a new, diffuser-look bumper which adds a motorsport touch. In conjunction with the equally new trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes this design element emphasises the width of the body, further symbolising the power just waiting to be unleashed by the roadster.

Direct-steer system:  consummate sporty driving pleasure

The SL name is synonymous with driving pleasure as well as design. These Mercedes sports cars have always offered a scintillating driving experience that does not deal in compromises – neither in terms of handling dynamics nor by any means when it comes to comfort or safety. It was under this premise that the Mercedes engineers modified and perfected the SL technology, one example being the new, optionally available direct-steer system, which is as simple as it is ingenious and provides a whole new driving experience when cornering.

This new development is based on the familiar standard-fit speed-sensitive power steering system whose principal benefit is the lower steering forces when driving slowly, manoeuvring or parking. The difference is the variable rack ratio, which adjusts in line with the steering angle, increasing sharply as soon as this reaches five degrees. All of which means that, compared to a steering system with a constant ratio, the driver does not have to move the steering wheel as much when cornering. The car’s response is therefore noticeably more direct, allowing the driver to steer in a more spontaneous or, in other words, sportier fashion.

When driving slowly or parking, the new technology combines with the speed-sensitive power steering to provide even more comfort than before as the large ratio further reduces the steering effort required.

In addition, the SL still offers some of the very finest chassis technology available in the shape of a four-link front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension. Meanwhile the Active Body Control (ABC) system, included as standard on the SL 500 and the SL 600, remains a unique masterpiece. It compensates for the body’s pitching, rolling and lifting movements, and adapts the suspension settings automatically to suit the current driving situation. This makes for excellent agility on the one hand and optimum driving stability on the other, without compromising the car’s supreme levels of comfort. Mercedes-Benz has further fine-tuned the ABC shock-absorber settings for the new-generation SL in order to bring a whole new quality to this unique blend of sportiness, comfort and safety.

Size 255/45 R 17 wide-base tyres and 17-inch light-alloy wheels are fitted as standard on the new SL 280 and SL 350 models, whereas the V8-powered SL 500 Roadster will now run on 18-inch wheels shod with 255/40 R 18 tyres. And the exclusive character of the twelve-cylinder SL 600 model is accentuated by 18-inch ten-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels with 255/40 R 18 tyres at the front and 285/35 R 18 tyres at the rear.

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