The Mercedes SL has been a halo car for the fabled German brand since the 1950s, and the new one once again takes up that mantle. Utterly gorgeous to behold, its pièce de resistance is dropping the fabric roof in just 15 seconds and transforming from a classic coupe into a beguiling boulevard-cruising convertible.
However, this latest SL has, for the first time ever, been developed by Mercedes’ performance division, AMG. That means this all-new model mixes a high-tech, luxuriously appointed interior and cosseting grand touring talent (which have long been SL trademarks) with more sporting intent. Think active aerodynamics, sports suspension, and an engine featuring electric turbocharger tech taken directly from Formula 1™.
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Why is the SL such a halo car for Mercedes? The original, built in 1952, was in fact a racing car – but two years later the first SL road car was born. This beautiful 300 SL had upward-opening ‘gullwing’ doors, an equally stunning open-top roadster model soon followed, and today either one will set you back millions of pounds.
The SL pedigree doesn’t stop there. The follow-up 1960s model, with its ‘pagoda’, might be even more famous than the original. The third-generation SL was so good Mercedes built it for nearly twenty years. And its successor found fame in the ‘90s when Lady Diana took delivery of one to become the first member of the British Royal household to drive a foreign car privately. Quite a lineage!The new SL is no less special than its ancestors, but you’ll put the past to the back of your mind when you first encounter it. It’s simply stunning. The long bonnet and short overhangs give it pure sports-car proportions, while the styling is kept clean and crisp by touches like the flush, automatically extending door handles. Wait until you see gorgeous Spectral Blue metallic paint sparkling in the sun, too.
Sun, you say? Time to lower the electronically operated triple-layer fabric roof, which can fold up or down in just 15 seconds, at speeds up to 37mph. There’s more going on behind the scenes too, because when the roof opens the SL’s wiper system both reduces the amount of water and sprays mainly in the downward motion of the wiper blade, meaning no spray into the interior.
It’s then your choice how you enjoy the SL. It has wonderful grand touring capabilities, with a plethora of helpful features like an automatic gearbox (with paddle-shift override) and massage front seats. And with a heated steering wheel, a neck-warming ‘Airscarf’ heating system, and heating or cooling for the front seats, you’re catered for whether you’re taking a top-down cruise in frosty deep winter or the height of summer. Or, you can take advantage of the fact that the SL was developed by Mercedes’ AMG performance division for the first time. And this one, the SL43 model, is the first production vehicle to use a Formula 1™ inspired electric turbocharger. That means 381PS, 480Nm of torque and 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds.
However your mood takes you, your surroundings will be impeccable as the Mercedes SL has one of the most impressive interiors we’ve ever seen. There’s supple Nappa leather, a 650-watt Burmester® sound system, and a free-standing central touchscreen that can electronically adjust to avoid reflections. The cutting-edge MBUX tech even offers augmented reality navigation and the ability to control the interior lights with hand gestures.
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