Deep Dive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL-class
The next Mercedes-Benz SL, codenamed R231, is new from bottom to top. Loosely based on the rear-wheel drive components set of the E-class, the hardtop-coupe gets a longer wheelbase to facilitate entry and egress for a graying customer base. There's also more room for passengers and luggage. Inside, we find a more user-friendly cockpit with better ergonomics, extended memory functions and new seats developed and built together with BMW.
To keep those aging drivers comfortable even when traversing rough pavement, the new SL will employ a new active suspension named Magic Ride Control. An evolution of the Active Body Control seen on the current SL, Magic Ride Control employs a camera that scans the road for potholes and other irregularities. The findings are relayed to a computer, which can then respond within fractions of a second and with an accuracy of one millimeter. The advanced road reader looks sixty-five feet ahead and remains fully active up to a speed of 60 mph when it gradually gives way to a tauter fixed setting.
As before, the SL will feature a retractable hardtop. This time around, it can be fitted with a variable-tint glass roof named Magic Sky Control. Up front, the L-shaped headlamps give way to more conventional rectangular lights, and the wideband grille will be positioned more upright for superior pedestrian protection. The rear end is dominated by extra-large wraparound taillights inspired by those on the CLS coupe.
Under the hood, the SL sticks to a gas engine-only line-up. The range starts with a 305 hp, 3.5-liter V-6. One step up is the 435-hp SL500 equipped with a twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8. Then there's the pair of AMG variants. Like the S63 and CL63 AMG cars, the SL63 AMG will shed its 6.2-liter V-8 in favor of an even more potent 5.5-liter bi-turbo model good for 565 hp. The mighty 6.0-liter V-12 survives in the SL65 AMG, and will see its output bumped to 630 hp, and will finally be paired with a seven-speed automatic in place of the beefy old five-speed. At the same time, the other SLs will eventually trade up from a seven-speed unit to an even more efficient nine-speeder with integrated hybrid technology. If the dual clutch transmission used on the SLS trickles down to the new SL, it will reserved for the AMG variants.