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2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Overview
Although the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class retractable-hardtop convertible was substantially upgraded in 2007, the 2013 model year marks its first complete redesign in 10 years. Constructed almost entirely out of aluminum and equipped with a new drivetrain, the SL550 is 275 pounds lighter and is more efficient.
Mercedes' flagship roadster competes in principle with two-seat models like the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster, but its $100,000-plus price tag puts it in league with four-seaters like the BMW 6 Series and Jaguar XK convertibles.
The 2013 SL is almost 2 inches longer and 2.2 inches wider than the 2012. The new model ditches the L-shaped headlights, which were more common on previous Benzes, for standard bi-xenon headlamps with articulating lenses.
Mercedes says the powered retractable hardtop goes from fully raised to fully closed in 20 seconds. Two tops are available: a glass roof or one that features Magic Sky Control. Using technology similar to that of an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Magic Sky Control can change the tint of the glass panel from opaque to transparent at the press of a button.
The 2013's additional width adds extra shoulder and elbow room. The cabin is appointed in standard leather, rich genuine wood and metal trim. The Edition 1 has exclusive paint on the outside, plus full exclusive leather, an imitation suede headliner, special badging and loads of standard equipment.
In addition to Magic Sky Control, the SL provides further "magic" in the form of Magic Vision Control — special heated wiper blades that spray washer fluid directly in their own path. Mercedes says this allows the windshield to be cleaned when the top is down, without spraying the occupants. This system joins Airscarf, another feature designed to combat a shortcoming of top-down driving: Vents below the head restraints blow warm air at the occupants' necks.
Additional high-tech trickery includes Active Parking Assist, which maneuvers the car into a parking space automatically, and the latest iteration of the Comand multimedia system, which integrates communication, entertainment and navigation systems into one display-based controller. It includes internet access with web browsing when the car is stationary.
As expected of a small roadster, the trunk volume is modest. The lowered roof cuts into the trunk's capacity, but as before, pressing a button causes the roof panels to rise, granting access to the remaining space beneath. New to this car class, a hands-free-access feature opens or closes the powered trunk lid when you wave your foot under the rear bumper.
Under the Hood
A new 429-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 with direct injection replaces the 5.5-liter V-8 on the SL550, continuing Mercedes' deviation from its onetime naming convention, which, if adhered to, would rename this model the SL460. The new motor brings a 12 percent improvement in horsepower and 32 percent more torque, now rated at 516 pounds-feet. A standard start/stop function and recalibrated seven-speed automatic transmission are claimed to increase mileage. The SL comes only with rear-wheel drive. Adaptive shock absorbers are standard equipment, and a more ambitious active suspension, Active Body Control, is an option.
As required of all new cars since the 2012 model year, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control are standard. Airbags include the frontal pair plus side airbags to protect both the occupants' torsos and heads.
As in the previous generation, active roll bars behind the seats stay out of the line of sight but deploy in the event of a rollover to create occupant-protection space.
All SLs come standard with a drowsiness detection system, which monitors driver attentiveness, and an adaptive braking system. Also available is Mercedes' Pre-Safe technology, which can autonomously stop the car if a collision is imminent.
*Overview courtesy of Cars.com