New spy pics of Merc's forthcoming luxury roadster, which goes on sale next year
21 October 2011

These are the latest spy pics of the Mercedes-Benz SL — the car with which the forthcoming rear-wheel-drive SLC is set to share selected chassis components and electrical architecture. The seventh-generation SL roadster is due to reach the UK in around spring next year.

Codenamed R231, the new SL has been thoroughly re-engineered as part of a weight-saving programme that’s set to affect all future Mercedes-Benz models.

The biggest change is the adoption of an aluminium body structure in place of the high-strength steel construction of today’s SL. Using solutions first applied to the SLS, the new SL is said to have achieved weight savings of up to 200kg, model for model — and that’s despite an improved level of safety and added standard equipment across the range.

See the latest spy pics of the Mercerdes SL testing

The new two-seater’s styling is a predictable evolution of the familiar SL theme, with a long nose, steeply raked windscreen and relatively long boot aimed at providing space for a folding hard-top.

The car’s styling details closely follow the approach taken with the new SLK. There is a large, open grille, angular headlamps with distinctive LED graphics, a heavily contoured bonnet, signature side air vent, heavily structured flanks and a tapered rear end whose width is emphasised by tail-lights that wrap right around to the body sides.

The new car remains much the same size as today’s SL: 4135mm in length, 1810mm in width and 1300mm in height. However, the wheelbase is slightly longer in a bid to liberate more interior space and provide improved packaging of the folding hard-top for greater luggage capacity.

Read more on Mercedes' new Porsche 911 rival

As with the third-generation SLK, the new SL will offer Mercedes-Benz’s Magic Sky Control roof as an option among a raft of advanced technological features.

The roof’s glass structure, integrated into the hard-top’s aluminium frame, uses an electronically controlled process to alter the level of tint and intensity of the UV light entering the cabin at the press of a button.

Among the petrol engines set to appear in the new upmarket roadster are Mercedes-Benz’s new naturally aspirated 302bhp 3.5-litre V6 and a 429bhp twin-turbocharged 4.6-litre V8.

Mercedes shows SLS Roadster

At a later stage, there will be a new 630bhp twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V12, which will feature cylinder shutdown on part throttle for added fuel efficiency. There will also be an AMG variant, running a 536bhp twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8.

Unlike today’s SL, which is assembled at Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Bremen, Germany, the new one will be produced at the company’s main factory in Sindelfingen. The move is aimed at gearing up Sindelfingen to produce a greater number of aluminium-based models, including the SLC, which will be produced alongside the new SL.

Greg Kable

See all the latest Mercedes SL reviews, news and video

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Dallara Stradale
    The Stradale is the first road-legel car from Italian motorsport constructor Dallara
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    The motorsport constructor's first road car is inspired by Lotus minimalism. Does it thrill on road and track?
  • Hyundai i30 N
    Standard spec is good so paint colour is our car’s only option
    First Drive
    16 March 2018
    What’s Hyundai’s first hot hatch and N-brand debutant really like? Let’s find out
  • Porsche Boxster GTS
    This is the new GTS version of the Porsche Boxster
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The 718-generation Boxster is our favourite roadster of the moment – so is this new GTS variant worth the extra outlay?
  • BMW 5 Series
    First Drive
    15 March 2018
    The BMW 5 Series is top of the mid-exec pack, but is there still room for a diesel saloon in everyday family life?
  • Audi A7 front
    First Drive
    14 March 2018
    The new Audi A7 Sportback looks the part, but how does the new Mercedes-Benz CLS rival cope on UK roads? We find out