Mercedes-Benz SL-Class (2008–2012)

Model History

April 2008

Facelifted W230 SL-Class from spring 2008 distinguished by new headlights. Optional new direct-steer system. SL 350 is powered by a newly developed, high-revving sports engine boasting 315 hp yet with fuel economy 1.1 mpg better than its predecessor.

A horizontal louvre makes the radiator grille appear wider. Two powerdomes on the bonnet and the gill-style air outlets in the front wings are hallmarks of the 300 SL from 1954 and have been given a modern interpretation. Headlamps are drawn deeply into the flanks, further emphasising the impression of breadth at the front end. The front-end design that will serve as a template for future Mercedes passenger cars.

The Direct Steer system is based on the familiar standard-fit speed-sensitive power steering system with lower steering forces – the benefit of which is noticeable above all when driving slowly, manoeuvring or parking. New features include a variable rack ratio, which adjusts in line with the steering angle, increasing sharply as soon as this reaches five degrees. Compared to a steering system with a constant ratio, the driver does not have to move the steering wheel as much when cornering. The car's response is therefore more direct, allowing the driver to steer more spontaneously or, in other words, more sportily.

Size 255/45 R 17 wide-base tyres and 17-inch light-alloy wheels are fitted as standard on the SL 350 model, whereas the V8-powered SL 500 Roadster runs on 18-inch wheels shod with 255/40 R 18 tyres. And the exclusive character of the twelve-cylinder SL 600 model is accentuated by 18-inch ten-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels with 255/40 R 18 tyres at the front and 285/35 R 18 tyres at the rear.

The SL350 engine can rev up to 7200 rpm in order to make full use of its power reserves in certain driving situations. Compared to the previous 3.5-litre engine, the output has been boosted by 16 percent to 315 hp (at 6500 rpm), while the peak torque has been increased by 10 Nm and now stands at 360 Nm. This powerplant accelerates the new SL 350 from 0 to 62 mph in a mere 6.2 seconds, making it 0.4 seconds faster than the outgoing SL 350. Sounds better too.

The standard-fit seven-speed automatic transmission allows fast multiple downshifts when accelerating, on the other hand by providing a new double-declutching function that is activated during manual downshifts. As well as producing a sporty sound, this function also enhances comfort and safety as the double-declutching equalises the rotational speeds of the crankshaft and transmission. This set-up gives the driver the advantage of even more harmonious gear changes. Plus there is a noticeable reduction in load-change reactions.

The flagship engines in the SL line-up remain the eight-cylinder unit in the SL 500 developing 388 hp and the V12 powerplant in the SL 600, which develops 517 hp thanks to its twin turbochargers. The Mercedes engineers also worked meticulously on these models to further improve fuel consumption by 3%.

The new-generation SL-Class makes its public debut in March 2008 at Geneva. It will then appear at Mercedes-Benz outlets and dealerships in the UK from mid-April, 2008.

July 2008

SL65AMG Black Series announced

Wide cooling air apertures in the front apron and the bonnet are the clearest indication of the massive power of this AMG twelve-cylinder, biturbocharged engine. From its 5980 cubic capacity, the AMG V12's engine generates a maximum power of 670 hp at 5400 rpm and an electronically limited torque of 1000 Nm between 2200 and 4200 rpm. Without a limiter, the AMG 6.0 litre V12 biturbo engine, which is hand-built in the AMG engine factory in accordance with the "one man – one engine" philosophy, would achieve a maximum torque of 1200 Nm.

Compared with the basis power pack in the 612 hp SL 65 AMG, new turbochargers were developed for the 12-cylinder SL 65 AMG Black Series engine. The turbochargers' spiral cross-section, now 12 per cent larger, and the optimised wastegate ducts permit increased air throughput and an even more impressive display of power in all engine speed ranges.

The modified intake air ducting results in an even more spontaneous response. The new design for the AMG sports exhaust gas system's rear silencers reduce the exhaust gas backpressure and help increase the power output. The acoustic side effect of this is to produce a distinctive 12-cylinder sound, typically evocative of AMG engine tuning, from the two trapezoidal tail pipes.

The low-temperature charge air cooler, now 30 per cent more powerful, and the optimised water cooling system guarantee not only that the power generated under extreme dynamic driving conditions is exploited to the maximum but also the greatest possible fatigue strength at high outside temperatures.

What does a Mercedes-Benz SL-Class (2008 – 2012) cost?

List Price from £39,045
Buy new from £31,183