All the goodies you ever wanted in a car, and some you couldn’t have imagined, are offered in the new Benz SL. Its retractable hard top has a panoramic roof which can vary in tint and opacity, “like those terrible shades your hip geography teacher used to wear,” says TopGear.
It has special heated wiper blades that “judiciously” dispense (per the Mercedes press release)
wash fluid just in front of the wiper blade via channels integrated into the blade—in both directions of travel. The result is no water splash on the windshield to disrupt driver visibility and a perfectly clean windshield. The water also stays on the windshield, with no risk of overspray into the passenger cabin when the roof is down.
Can you imagine anything more gauche than having your inamorata sprinkled with wash fluid while you are impressing her with your motoring skills on the corniche?
The SL also has a special FrontBass sound system that uses aluminum body cavities to provide “a concert hall ambience even with the top down.” And you simply move your foot under the rear bumper to unlock the trunk lid for access to your Gucci purchases.
Now, for the unimportant stuff. The SL350 will feature a 3.5-liter V6 with 302 hp. The SL550 has a new 4.7-liter V8 that produces 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque to get you to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Fuel economy is up in both engines compared to last year’s models.
The suspension has been redesigned, with two systems available, for predictably agile handling. A host of safety features include one which can detect an imminent accident and automatically prepare seat belts and airbags for deployment.
The SL550 weighs in at 4,222 pounds—275 less than last year’s car. The extensive use of aluminum, in castings and body panels, is documented here. The SL body is 90 percent aluminum.
The jury is still out as far as looks are concerned, with MSN Autos writer Sam Smith calling it “a design mish-mash” that will probably sell well. I think the design works—and will appeal strongly to the typical buyer of such a car. It looks big, tough and purposeful, which it is. And there is no mistaking the Benz heritage.
Do you have an opinion on the SL’s styling? Good, bad, or something in between? More pix and press release are here.