2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class: First Look

  • Competes with: BMW 6 Series
  • Looks like: A more mature SLK-Class 
  • Drivetrain: 429-hp, 4.6-liter V-8; seven-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: Spring 2012

Mercedes-Benz has updated most of its vehicle lineup with more fuel-efficient models in a relatively short amount of time, including the 2012 C-Class, M-Class and SLK-Class. The latest model to receive some efficiency gains is the totally redesigned 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

Important takeaways include a body almost exclusively made out of aluminum and a new powertrain. 

The new lightweight aluminum body and aluminum steering knuckles and suspension arms, along with other weight-saving measures, shave off 275 pounds compared with the SL’s predecessor. 

The weight reduction helps with fuel efficiency, and so does the new 429-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8, which replaces the 5.5-liter V-8 on the SL550. The new motor offers a 12% improvement in horsepower and 32% more torque, now rated at 516 pounds-feet. The engine features a standard start-stop function and is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The new juice allows the SL550 to propel from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

The new model ditches the L-shaped headlights, which were more common on previous Benz products, with standard bi-xenon headlamps with articulating lenses. Compared with its predecessor, the new SL is longer (1.97 inches) and wider (2.24 inches), giving it a more sporty look out front.  

Two hardtop convertible roofs are available. Like what’s available on the SLK, there’s a hardtop glass roof or one that features Magic Sky Control, which can change the tint of the glass panel from opaque to transparent with the press of a button.

The extra space adds shoulder room and elbow room, Mercedes says. The overall interior design is reminiscent of what we’ve seen in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, featuring large metallic radial air vents. The SL550 features a standard 7-inch color display and Mercedes’ Comand multimedia system, which can access the internet and play DVDs. 

All SLs now come standard with a drowsiness detection system, which monitors the attentiveness of the driver, and an adaptive braking system. Also available is Mercedes' Pre-Safe technology, which can autonomously stop the car. It's similar to Volvo’s City Safe system. A self-parking system is available, too.

The 2013 SL550 goes on sale in the spring. Mercedes hasn’t announced pricing or the availability of a SL63 AMG model for that matter, but expect a starting price north of $100,000. The model will debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. 

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