The Mercedes-Benz SL has a long and storied history, dating all the way back to 1954. As such, when a new one rolls around it is a pretty big event. The previous generation SL, while updated in 2008, was introduced in 2003.
That gives it a product lifespan that is longer than most in the industry. With all the development money poured into it, it makes sense. The SL is one of those cars that soldiers on for a while and still remains fresh. For 2013, Mercedes is billing the car as all-new.
As far as Mercedes design, Who would have known the SLS AMG would have been so influential? Over the past few years, Mercedes has steadily abandoned its sedate, roundish design theme for a much bolder and defined look.
There are harder, almost more retro edges in every new product. The new SL debuts large front headlights, with a very wide, upright grille spanning the front end. There is a single bar running across the grille, and a gigantic pointed star takes center stage. While it is influenced by the SLS, the SL actually stands out versus the rest of the Mercedes lineup.
It is very defined as a unique product. We’ll see if it remains that way. If the sL looks bigger to you than before, that’s because it is, and not by insignificant amounts either. Length has been increased by 1.97 inches and width by 2.27 inches. The new car seems to offer a much more imposing presence than before.
The rear end still bears a strong resemblance to the previous car. It looks a lot wider not only due to actual width, but also a more horizontal design. Interestingly, the consistency of the taillights look almost Bangle-era BMW.
Inside, the new SL adopts a similar look to the SLS AMG, with a cockpit-like feel that uses chrome gauges. The two-tone leather is particularly stunning in this car. It feels a lot more special and high-end than the previous SL. Watch for this interior style to spread across the Mercedes lineup as its gets redesigned.
While most cars gain weight with age (like the SL has over its lifetime), the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL actually drops it. It is thanks to a construction made nearly entirely from aluminum. It has an all-aluminum body shell, the first Mercedes to do so. The overall weight reduction can be up to 308 pounds depending on model – Mercedes says it is the equivalent of a large passenger stepping out of the car.
For the SL550 the weight reduction is at the 275 pound mark. Something to remember is that if the new SL didn’t use aluminum, it would weigh more than its predecessor as it is larger and has more technology on board. Mercedes says owners will experience much improved structural rigidity and handling.
The SL continues with a downsizing effort in Mercedes V-8 engines. The car’s 4.6-liter V-8 is 0.8 liters smaller than its predecessor, but produces 429 horsepower and 516 pound feet of torque. Power is up by 12 percent, while torque is up by an astonishing 32 percent – the previous car generated 391 lb-ft. The 4.6 is much more efficient as well, achieving its power through twin-turbocharging and direct injection.
A 7-Speed automatic transmission does the shifting, and the SL features an ECO stop/start system as standard equipment. 0-60 arrives in 4.5 seconds, eight tenths faster than the previous car. The 2013 SL550 looks like a worthy update in a line of iconic vehicles. We can’t wait to check it out in person; the SL550 is headed to Mercedes dealers in the spring of next year.