Our spy photographers have recently caught the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SL undergoing some pre-production road tests. This is the first time we've seen the upcoming flagship model touring about with its top down, and what a great looking car it is in open-top form.

2012 Mercedes-Benz SL

Looking a little like the upcoming SLS Roadster, the new SL showcases a low-profile with a high waistline. Thanks to these latest spy shots, which show the car in its most revealing guise yet, we can see the front and rear ends will take on the new Mercedes-Benz design philosophy.

The new, wide front grille and fascia incorporate a single horizontal cross bar. The front end also uses the new box-shape headlight design and the bonnet has a higher, more pronounced forehead line compared with the existing model.

As far as engines go, the new car is expected to become available with a range of V6 and V8 engines, including an AMG-specific model later down the track. A hybrid variant also has potential which would line up with Mercedes-Benz's plan of bringing out a hybrid version of every model by 2014.

Chassis-wise, the next-generation model will be built upon an aluminium spaceframe which has been developed to improve the car's handling and on-road performance, as well as helping to improve the car's fuel consumption.

From the rear, the new SL looks very elegant, taking inspiration from the SLS and even SL models of the early years. The new model is expected to be unveiled sometime next year, with sales commencing in 2013.