by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class (R 231): Early test-drive & preliminary information

Mercedes-Benz will drop first photos and details on its new SL-Class roadster early next year. The R 231 generation of the luxurious convertible from Stuttgart will come almost ten years after the current model, launched in summer 2002. Autobild magazine editor, Carsten Paulun, got an insight into the new SL and reveals the car will combine tradition with supreme luxury, high-grade dynamics and state-of-the-art technologies.

Above all the qualities of the new open-top, efficiency was a crucial target that needed to be fully accomplished. According to company officials, the new SL features an intricately-designed construction, based upon extensive use of lightweight materials such as aluminium, which brings benefits to balance, performance and fuel economy. Although the engine lineup will mostly comprise V6, V8 and V12 units, Mercedes-Benz boasts to have been working hard on developing several systems that help the powerplants achieve consumption numbers under 10 litres per 100 km, one of them being the common start/stop technology, further refined. Power will be sent to the rear wheels thanks to the addition of the new, efficiently-running 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic gearbox.

Given the initial details, the main versions will be the SL 350 with 306 hp as entry-level. Moving forward in the range, the SL 400 follows, in fact the base petrol model with a direct injection V6 tweaked to deliver around 350-360 hp. The SL 500 will make use of the twin-turbo 4.7-litre V8 motor with an increased output of up to 450 hp. The high-end SL 600 is still in doubt, but latest hints suggest an updated V12 engine is under development and could bow by the end of 2013. Whereas for the AMG models, if the V8-powered SL 63 (544 to 571 hp) is a certainty, the outcome of a new SL 65 is still shrouded in mystery. Speculation on a possible 4MATIC variant for the new SL is fragile, as the Stuttgart-based constructor is appearantly not considering this alternative chassis at the moment.

The new SL-Class will come packed full of the latest assistance systems, such as the COMAND Online, PRE-SAFE, ATTENTION ASSIST and many more. Furthermore, it appears Mercedes-Benz will also offer a new sports-oriented Driver Package as an option, that is sure to transform the R 231 into a complete athlete. When sketching the upcoming SL, designers took their inspiration from the CLS, SLS and SLK, so expect an intriguing, yet elegant blend of different styles both inside and outside. Following the world premiere at next year's NAIAS Detroit in January, the new Mercedes-Benz Sl-Class will celebrate the market launch during spring 2012, at a starting price of approximately €85000.

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