I don’t think there’s a car buff alive that does not love the Mercedes Benz SL, and the 2013 version has only served to generate more fans and an even greater appreciation of this beautiful automobile.
This sixth generation SL is about two inches longer and wider, and its aluminum frame is about 275 pounds lighter than the previous model; most of the body panels are also aluminum, and high-strength steel is used in the roof pillars. Overall, the new SL body is about 20 percent stiffer than the car it replaces.
For a bit of history, this model marks the 60th anniversary of the iconic coupe/roadster and the SL designation initially was intended as an abbreviation for the words “super” and “light.” The name “SL” evolved to become the best-known model in the Mercedes-Benz line. The first-ever SL in 1952 was a racecar, with an innovative tubular space frame, a teardrop-shaped aluminum body and “gullwing” doors. It won both Le Mans and the famed Carrera Panamericana that year and the 300SL was a racing sensation that launched the revolutionary production sports car.
The 2013 version of the SL550 is powered by an amazingly efficient and refined new V- 8 engine that gets up to 14 percent better fuel economy while producing even more power, thanks to such innovative technology as direct fuel injection, twin turbochargers and a multi-spark ignition. The new 4.6-liter engine has a 20 percent smaller displacement, but generates more horsepower and torque — 429 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque. Its smaller displacement is more than offset by the power boost of twin turbochargers and an air-water intercooler.
The new SL550 engine comes with an innovative ECO stop-start system. When the car stops and you step on the brake pedal, the engine turns off automatically to save fuel. As soon as you take your foot off the brake and step on the accelerator, the engine computer selects the piston that is in the best position for first ignition, and the direct fuel injection and multi-spark systems work with a starter motor to seamlessly re-start the engine.
Aside from the powerplant, this SL is simply loaded with the latest in automotive technology. Such things as a retractable hardtop on the roadster and a standard Panorama sunroof on the coupe, with a seethrough polycarbonate roof panel. The optional Magic Sky Control has a glass roof panel and the tinting is controlled by the driver or passenger. A button above the rear-view mirror lets you change the tint from transparent to heavily tinted, using technology similar to automatic dimming mirrors.
There also is a myriad electronic safety systems and crash avoidance systems on the SL, including Attention Assist, Distronic Plus, Pre-Safe Brake and ESP stability control, as well as Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist. Base price on the 2013 Mercedes Benz 550SL is $105,000.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com