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by Tim Beissmann

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class has been officially unveiled ahead of its Australian launch in June.

Although official prices are still to be finalised, Mercedes-Benz Australia’s David McCarthy said he did not expect significant changes over the pricing of the outgoing model, which is priced at $242,780 for the SL 350 and $334,840 for the SL 500.

Thanks to a number of leaks and embargo breaks earlier this week, the styling of the all-new flagship luxury convertible comes as no surprise. Heavily influenced by its open-top siblings – the SLK and SLS AMG – the 2012 Mercedes SL sports an upright grille, bold headlights, a muscular rear end and a classy, sporty interior.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL 350 continues to be powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine. It produces 225kW and 370Nm – down 7kW but up 10Nm on the previous model. It’s three-tenths quicker from 0-100km/h than before (5.9 seconds) and 30 per cent more fuel efficient, which should translate to an Australian combined cycle figure of 7.0 litres per 100km.

The 285kW/530Nm 5.5-litre engine in the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 has been replaced by the 4.7-litre twin-turbo from the CL 500. Power steps up to 320kW and torque increases to 700Nm. As a result it’s eight-tenths faster from 0-100km, completing the sprint in just 4.6 seconds, yet incredibly 22 per cent more fuel efficient than before. Australian figures should fall from 12.0L/100km to 9.4L/100km.

As earlier reported, extensive use of aluminium in the new SL’s construction makes the new models between 125kg and 140kg lighter than the cars they replace. The new SL also benefits from a revised seven-speed transmission (driving the rear wheels) and start/stop technology to further boost efficiency.

The 2012 SL-Class incorporates a speed-sensitive power steering system that is designed to increase high-speed agility and stability, as well as make parking easier. Semi-active adjustable damping also comes standard.

The SL’s magnesium-frame roof is 6kg lighter than before and now opens or closes in less than 20 seconds. Magic Vision Control (first seen on the SLK) is available optionally, allowing occupants to change the transparency of the panoramic glass roof at the touch of a button.

Mercedes says it is the only car maker with a boot that automatically opens and closes. Drivers can open the boot by swiping their feet under the rear bumper.

It also says the SL is the world’s safest roadster, including the Pre-Safe and Attention Assist anticipatory occupant protection systems, Neck-Pro crash-responsive head restraints and six airbags. Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control with Pre-Safe Brake (designed to avoid rear-end collisions) is available as an option.

Standard interior equipment includes the Comand infotainment system with high-resolution seven-inch TFT colour display, internet access and a DVD changer.

Mercedes-Benz Australia hopes the all-new SL will resurrect sales of the high-end convertible, which have halved so far this year from 48 to 23, as consumers hold out for the new model.




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