The new Mercedes 2013 SL550 combines power and performance in a stylish package. The sleek lines from front to back demonstrate the skillful collaboration of Mercedes designers, working to improve overall functionality without sacrificing the iconic Mercedes style. This large hard-top convertible is the sixth generation of Mercedes SL vehicles and according to Juergen Weissinger, chief engineer, it is the biggest step they’ve taken from one generation to the next.
Sport leicht, or sport and lightweight is what SL has supposedly stood for ever since the car debuted in the ’50s. This new model promises to be more car than ever: more powerful, more efficient, and more stylish with a lighter-weight construction. The 2013 SL550, is the first of the updated SLs to go on sale, and will be powered by Mercedes’ new 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8. The engine is backed by a seven-speed automatic transmission and now gets standard stop/start functionality. The 2013 SL550 uses the company’s first all-aluminum body in a series-production model, which is claimed to make it 275 pounds lighter than the car it replaces. Dr. Thomas Rudlaff, who was responsible for the aluminum shell, puts the weight difference in perspective: “The effect is as if a large passenger has stepped out of the car.” The 2013 car is 1.4 inches longer, 2.2 inches wider, and rides on a 1-inch-longer wheelbase. Mercedes says this all helps create a larger cabin, increasing the interior room.
The front-end styling recalls that of early SLs, with a number of modern features including LED elements for some lighting functions and optional matte paint. The upright, single-bar grille and large three-pointed star are stylistic elements that add a classic feel while maintaining a slick sporty look. The interior is illuminated with strong ambient lighting, with an embossed script Mercedes-Benz logo on the steering wheel. There are two roof choices. The glass roof, previously an option, will now be standard. Buyers can also opt for a new Mercedes innovation called: Magic Sky Control, which is an electrochromic glass panel that can go from nearly translucent to opaque at the touch of a button.
The Magic Sky control works by energizing light-blocking crystals that are sandwiched in the glass. By electrifying the crystals, they reorder themselves, varying the amount of light that’s let through the glass roof panel, and thus shifting from a clear top to opaque. Similar electrochromic glass technology has been used by Ferrari in the 575 Superamerica, but appears to have grown out of favor in Maranello, whereas Mercedes-Benz is reportedly planning to spread the technology around to more of its lineup.