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

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