What is it? The SL, a super-luxury roadster, has been reworked for 2013, recast, almost literally, as a nearly all-aluminum car. This is one of those look-but-don’t touch automobiles, starting at around $100,000 and soaring close to $200,000, before you add any options. The direct-injection 4.7-liter V8 in the SL 550 now produces 435-hp. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard.
What is new or notable? The retractable hard top is mostly glass, a huge tinted “panorama” sunroof. Extensive use of aluminum for the body structure and other systems have shaved almost 250 pounds from the previous SL550, helping to reduce the 0-to 60-mph sprint to less than 5 seconds. An ECO stop-start system, like that used in hybrid cars, saves fuel by shutting down the engine when the car comes to a halt and restarting instantly when you take your foot off the brake. Mercedes says that those revisions have improved fuel economy by more than 30 percent.
CR’s take: The new SL takes some styling cues from its famous forbears, and certainly looks slick and stylish on the show floor. Laudable fuel economy may not be the main reason someone buys a super-expensive high-performance car, but maybe people with lots of green in their pocket like to project a modicum of green outside as well. This is not as arrogant as it seems. It’s often the case that cutting-edge features debut on high-end cars, which then serve as a test bed as the technologies are refined for the mass market—or allowed to fail quietly.
When will it be available? Spring 2012