Mercedes will break new ground with the sixth generation of its inimitable Mercedes SL roadster next year by making it the very first Mercedes in large-scale series production to use an almost exclusively aluminium lightweight construction.
At a preview event held close to last week’s Los Angeles motor show, Mercedes showed journalists a completed example of the new two-seater grand convertible’s ‘body-in-white’ superstructure.
Made from a mix of chill cast-, vacuum die cast-, stamped- and extruded aluminium, it allows the finished 2012 SL to be at once 140kg lighter than the outgoing steel car, and 20 per cent more torsionally rigid – to the enhancement of handling precision, rolling refinement, performance and fuel-efficiency.
Mercedes’ CAD-optimised design for the SL’s monocoque is even stiffer than other aluminium-constructed rivals – or so the firm claims. “Our engineers have measured a Jaguar XK’s body stiffness at around 16,000Nm per degree of torsional deflection,” said SL Product Manager Bernd Stegmann. “The new SL has just under 20,000Nm per degree.”