2016 Mercedes SL revealed – luxury roadster gets a facelift

SL63 and SL65 AMG models retain V8 and V12 powertrains

Mercedes has released the full technical details of its 2016 SL range, confirming that more power and technical updates will join the car’s facelifted exterior. The four-model SL line-up retains its two AMG models, and will go on sale at the start of 2016.

Design 

The most noticeable change for the 2016 car is its new exterior. Up front, the old model's angular headlights have been swapped for curvier LED items, and a new front grille features softer edges, working with a restyled bumper to give the nose a more aggressive demeanour – one that clearly mimics that of the AMG GT

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The changes at the rear are even subtler – most significant are all-red taillights and a slightly reshaped bumper – but overall, the facelifted exterior moves the SL’s design closer to the rest of Mercedes’ current model line-up.

Engines, performance and 0-60 times 

The engine line-up of the new car is essentially unchanged, though admittedly the twin-turbocharged 3-litre V6 of the entry-level SL400 does produce a little more power. Peak output is now up to 362bhp and torque also grows to 369lb ft, helping to trim the car’s 0 to 62mph to 4.9 seconds – three-tenths quicker than before. 

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That’s as far as the engine changes go however, because the SL500’s 4.7-litre V8 still produces 449bhp and 516lb ft of torque; though the car’s 4.3 second 0 to 62mph time (claimed) and limited 158mph top speed should satisfy most.

If it doesn’t, more power can be had from the SL’s two AMG models. The first is the SL63, which keeps its twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 that produces 577bhp at 5500rpm and 664lb ft of torque from 2250-3750rpm. It’s capable of accelerating the roadster from 0 to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds. 

The SL65 is faster still. Thanks to the mighty twin-turbocharged 6-litre V12 under its bonnet, it sends a significant 621bhp to the rear wheels when the engine is spinning at 5500rpm; there’s also a hefty 737lb ft of torque on offer between 2300 and 4300rpm. It can propel the car from 0 to 62mph in just 4 seconds and, like the rest of the SL range, is limited to 158mph – AMG models can have this raised to 186mph with the AMG Driver’s pack. 

Transmission

Swapping cogs in the non-AMG models is a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox, which can be adjusted through five drive modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. The AMG SL63 is equipped with a redeveloped AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed transmission, while the SL65 gets Mercedes’ AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic ‘box. Both AMG seven-speed transmissions work with a mechanical limited slip differential and five AMG Dynamic Select Drive modes - Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual and Race.

Chassis

Like the outgoing car, the SL's standard suspension setup uses steel springs and variable dampers, and Mercedes also offers Active Body Control as an option - the system can counter body roll and continually adjusts damping rates. The AMG models are suspended on a sports-tuned version of this system as standard. 

Technical highlights 

New tech features for the SL include those standard-fit intelligent LED headlights – which automatically adjust and steer according to conditions – and an uprated electrohydraulic vario-roof, which can now close at speeds of up to 25mph. Additionally, the optional Driving Assistance pack adds radar cruise control, Active Brake Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and a rear-end collision protection system – which tightens belts and flashes the brake lights if a car is fast approaching.

Pricing and sale date

Though prices for the 2016 SL are yet to be confirmed, we expect the SL400 to start close to the outgoing model’s £73,575, and the range-topping SL65 to receive a hefty price cut – currently it starts at £173,360. Order books will open at the start of 2016, and first deliveries are expected to follow in April.

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