The Toys of Summer 2012: Mercedes-Benz SL550

  • Robert Ross

When a car’s lineage spans nearly 60 years, as the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class’s does, the launch of a new version of that vehicle is occasion for fanfare. While the sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL550 appears similar to its 2012 predecessor, much of the car is new, including two features—a windscreen and a tinting top—that can add to the pleasure of a summer drive.

 

The push-button-controlled mesh windscreen rises behind the rear seats to reduce noise and turbulence during open-air driving. The top, a folding glass-and-metal design, makes the SL a fully competent sunroof-equipped coupe when raised. And with the Magic Sky Control (a $2,500 option), the top’s glass panel can turn from clear to tinted, keeping the cabin cool when the top is up and the sun is out. The optional ventilated seats feature Mercedes-Benz’s Airscarf neck-level heating system, which makes it more comfortable to keep the top down when temperatures drop.

 

Think aluminum when you think of the SL. The car’s body panels are made of the metal, and many of its structural underpinnings employ advanced-aluminum castings that shed weight—275 pounds compared to the previous model—and add strength. The new SL, priced from $105,500, is also longer and wider than its predecessor. Its 4.6-liter V-8 delivers 14 percent greater fuel efficiency while producing more power and torque through the use of twin turbochargers. With 429 hp and 516 ft lbs of torque, the SL is plenty quick. The optional Active Body Control ($4,000) feature greatly enhances the car’s handling prowess at speed.

 

Mercedes-Benz, www.mbusa.com

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