2012 Detroit Auto Show: 2013 Mercedes SL Roadster
By: Carl Malek
Even though leaked images of the company’s flagship roadster made their way to the Internet last month, Mercedes-Benz chose to kick off its NAIAS festivities in grand style by unveiling the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster in the flesh for journalists assembled at its stand. The newest iteration of the SL roadster should look very familiar to those that have seen and driven the last generation SL, but that doesn’t mean Mercedes has not tweaked the SL formula once again for the latest chapter in the SL’s long and legendary story.
A major change for 2013 is the body of the new SL, which is now constructed almost entirely out of aluminum. The switch to this material for the new body of the SL helps the car shed 300 pounds, which should help improve the driving dynamics of the SL as well as its fuel economy. In addition to its lighter weight body shell, the 2013 Mercedes SL also makes use of several magnesium components to trim weight even further, though Mercedes did add several pieces of high strength steel tubing into the A-pillars to help enhance the car’s safety. These changes should make up for the slow weight gain that the model has seen in the last few generations, but also help the car truly live up to its SL name plate, which is short for “super light.”
In addition to the exterior tweaks, Mercedes engineers also have managed to cram even more technology and features into the interior of the new SL which should promise to assist drivers in new ways. One of the new features that will be offered in the new SL is Mercede’s familiar Magic Sky control system which allows the driver to automatically dim the panoramic sunroof at the flick of a switch (A more conventional glass roof is standard). The roof assembly itself is lighter and quicker than in the old car and is capable of being able to stow or deploy in 20 seconds. To further enhance the top down experience a new Front Bass audio system utilizes what would otherwise be wasted space ahead of the front passenger foot-wells to help serve as resonator chambers for the sub-woofers. This piece of technology marks the first time that an audio system has been developed with the body itself and its location also helps free up space in the doors. Other technology that will be available on the SL will include Magic Vision Control, adaptive braking and attention assist which helps alert the driver in the event he or she falls asleep behind the wheel, and Hands-Free assist which allows the driver or passenger to open the trunk by sliding their foot under the rear bumper when their hands are full with groceries or other items. I had the opportunity to see this system in action when it was demonstrated by a Mercedes PR person on the show floor and it managed to open and close the trunk consistently with little to no complications.
When the new SL arrives on our shores sometime in 2013 it will debut in SL550 trim. The SL550 will make use of Mercedes-Benz’s brand new 4.7 liter V8 which is good for 429 horsepower and more importantly 516 lb ft of torque – which is a 32 percent jump over the old model’s twisting strength. These lofty output numbers are accomplished through the use of direct injection which does its part to save fuel but also helps optimize the amount of power the engine can produce. With the new engine and the new weight saving measures, the 2013 Mercedes SL550 can make the sprint to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds – a significant 0.8 second improvement over the previous generation SL.
Expect the 2013 Mercedes SL to arrive at your local Mercedes dealership sometime in early 2013 and stay tuned to Techshake for continuing live coverage of the 2012 North American International Auto Show.