German Icons: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL

Design Analysis
All of the beauty is in the engineering.

The new SL is a wonderful car. It behaves beautifully, sounds magnificent under full acceleration, and is luxuriously comfortable. Too bad it's so clumsily styled. Each SL iteration traditionally set the styling canon for the entire following Mercedes product line. We can only hope that's not going to be the case now, because from a windshield frame that looks to be part of another car when the top is down to the cluttered and messily composed side profile and bulbous back end, this is a disappointing visual statement. Let's admire the brilliant engineering and hope for an early face-lift. -- Robert Cumberford


1 Inner surface of A-pillar is defined by the hood edge line, putting the windshield into a hole, a curiously clumsy solution.

2 Hood rides above the nominal fender profile, which is extremely old-fashioned.

3 This rolled-under line doesn't seem to have a definite destination and is severely straight, to no clear purpose.

4 Blunt vertical intersection of lamp and hood side is seriously awkward.

5 Outlet does not relate to wheelhouse opening and is punctuated by two inelegant chrome bars aligned with upper edge of surface indent.

6 Like the lances of two jousting knights, these spears clash with the flow of body forms.


7 Giant hole for door handle disrupts the line of the arbitrary rib in the door skin.

8 Fat, tall tail is inelegant but presumably necessary to get all the top panels inside the rounded rump.

9 Negative plane across the back is common to half a dozen European and Asian economy cars. Inspired by a Nissan Altima coupe?

10 More blades, this time disrupting the wheelhouse opening.

11 Is this indent meant to relate to the front fender outlet extension? If so, it misses.

12 Nice outlets for a very nice sound.

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