Since its 1954 conception, the elegant Mercedes-Benz SL line has dominated the Sporty and Lightweight Class of the auto market. Unlike other automobile manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz has maintained this dominance of the market by not making a lot of changes to their luxury convertibles. During the past six decades, there have only been four major alterations made to the SL line. However, from 2000 to present, the SL line’s marketplace dominance has been declining. Mercedes-Benz is making some changes to the sixth-generation 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550. The manufacturers hope the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 will be a better embodiment of the Sporty and Lightweight concept.
This SL550 Roadster definitely embodies the idea of “sporty” as some of its new features help to improve its performance and power. The new 4.6L biturbo V8, combined with the stiff aluminum chassis and the standard SL550 Active Body Control gives the SL550 a great feel and more precision. The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 goes from 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds; compared to the 5.3 seconds the outgoing 5.5L engine takes. Moreover, the 4.6L twin-turbo V8 offers 429-hp compared to the 5.5L engine’s 382-hp, and raises the torque from 391 pound-feet to 516 pound-feet. The new engine’s rapid-multispark ignition and high-pressure direct injection reduces fuel consumption, emissions and noise. Plus, it provides quicker and more widely variable valve timing, “on-demand” ancillary components and reduced friction.
The SL550’s seven-speed automatic transmission also has been improved to make it even more efficient, responsive and smoother. The gear, overdrive ratios and adaptive logic make the vehicle automatically respond to virtually every driving situation. However, the driver can select one of three modes (Eco, Sport, or Manual) to customize the driving experience to suit his or her mood.
Virtually all of the suspension components and their subframes are made from rigid, lightweight aluminum. This makes the SL550 more nimble and precise with more predictable handling. Utilizing a network of sensors, the semi-active suspension with Adaptive Damping System continually adjusts to various road surfaces and driving inputs to improve handling and comfort. Drivers can select either the comfort or sport modes to customize the handling and comfort levels to match their own driving styles.
The electromechanical power steering with Direct-steer provides quicker steering and lighter effort while parking, yet maintains excellent directional stability and a crispy feel at higher speeds. The SL550’s entire brake system provides additional safety, control and precision through its adaptive braking technology and various types of brakes.
Sporty Lightweight Design
The new SL550 sports design has an upright grille with its central Star, as well as a long hood that sweeps past the cockpit into a sharply-contoured tail. Due to several unique techniques, the nearly all-aluminum body is stronger than its predecessor’s steel constructed body. The mostly all-aluminum make-up of various components which helps the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 to shed 275 pounds. This gives the SL500 an estimated curb weight that’s just a little over 3900 pounds. Yet, despite the decrease in weight, the car now has larger dimensions than its predecessor. Combined with a magnesium roof, the nearly all-aluminum monocoque chassis helps to lower the car’s center of gravity. A deep front air dam with mesh intakes and aerodynamic sculpting of the side sills and rear valance are included in the 2013 SL550’s aggressive-styled lower bodywork.
The sophisticated aerodynamics and LED lighting compliment the chrome-accented hood and fender vents. Plus, the SL550’s alluring standard 18-inch staggered-width alloy wheels feature a twin 5-spoke design with a bright silver finish and high performance tires. Additionally, the bi-xenon headlamps with their Active Curve Illumination feature provide greater visibility, especially in corners at night.
The roadster’s signature retractable hardtop gives it a sleek closed coupe or classic open roadster look. This fantastic retractable hardtop only takes 16 seconds to fold down into the trunk as the rear window is pivoting 180 degrees to preserve cargo space. The occupants can enjoy an expansive panoramic view through a heat-reflecting transparent panel or can utilize a manual mesh sunshade which reduces the amount of sunlight entering the vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz SL550’s innovative cockpit is lavished in supple leather and hand-polished Burl Walnut and Black Ash wood trim, keeping the two occupants feeling coddled and captivated. The SL550’s cabin is also teeming with user-friendly technology. The SL500’s sports a multifunction 3-spoke steering wheel, which features a premium leather-wrapped rim with raised thumb grips and a flat-bottom design. Fingertip controls on the steering wheel allow you to easily control the audio-volume and selection. The steering wheel buttons also allow you to send and end calls on your Bluetooth-enabled phone and scroll through features of the instrument cluster’s multifunctional display.
Fuel efficiency, safety, comfort and convenience
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 also has numerous features which add to its fuel efficiency, safety, comfort and convenience. For instance, it features an Eco-Start/Stop system that automatically shuts the down the engine whenever there’s a long idling situation. The safety system also includes Pre-Safe technology that sets safeguards into motion when it senses there might be a high-impact accident. However, there’s too many great safety, performance, design and high-tech entertainment features to mention them all individually. Overall, the Sl550 might just succeed in satisfying Mercedes-Benz’s hopes and standards for embodying the concept of sporty and lightweight vehicles.