So for 2017 – it actually goes on sale next spring – the two-seater SL is getting some worthwhile plastic surgery that should have current SL owners reaching for their AMEX Black Cards and trading up.
It’s more evolution than revolution. After all the SL only had its last makeover in 2012.
But the Benz designers have grafted on an all-new grille that’s bigger, more upright and features Mercedes’ diamond-patterned grille insert you’ll see on most new Mercs, from the base CLA sedan to the hot new AMG GT.
There are also huge new chrome-edged air intakes beneath the bumper. They’re big enough to ingest small critters unfortunate enough to be sharing the highway with this new SL.
At each side of the grille, there are new, slimmer, more swept-back LED headlights, while the re-sculpted hood features twin ‘powerdome’ bulges to make the SL’s long, flat and wide hood look less like a pool table.
I’ll reserve judgement on this bold new look until I can see the car out on the road. Right now that new grille, with its slightly downturned mouth, reminds me too much of a Subaru.
But this new 2017 SL gets a few new technical changes that should further enhance the driving pleasure of this folding hardtop convertible.
And talking of folding hardtop, Mercedes engineers have apparently added Red Bull to the top’s folding mechanism. The top can now be raised or lowered at speeds up to 25 mph. That’s up from no mph.
Under that new hood, the base twin-turbo 3.0 V6 gets an extra 33 horseys to take the corral up to 362-hp. Couple that with the addition of a new nine-speed automatic and this newly named SL450 – it goes up from SL400 – should be quicker off the line and more economical.
Other SL powerplants continue pretty much unchanged. The familiar SL550 offers 449-hp; the SL63 comes with 577-hp; while the flagship V12-engined SL65 cranks out its 621-hp and mind-bending 738 lb-ft of torque.
Like the new SL450, all new SL models get the new, fast-shifting nine-speed auto. But interestingly, Mercedes-Benz didn’t use this opportunity to offer 4Matic All-Wheel Drive. I guess if you have a place in Aspen, you take your Merc G-Wagen.
What Mercedes engineers did do, however, is load-up this new SL cool, new driver-assistance technology. Like Active Brake Assist that stops the car automatically to avoid a rear-end collision. And a five-mode selector to modify the suspension and transmission settings to suit your driving mood.
There’s no official word yet on pricing, but I don’t expect stickers to stray too much from the current ones. That means a base SL450 for around $85,000, soaring to close to $220,000 for the mighty SL65.