r231

There’s a new Mercedes SL! Well sort of. 2 years after the launch of the R231 generation SL, Mercedes has given it a fresh new engine. The firm’s new 3.0 twin-turbo V6 can be found in the SL400 which replaces the SL350 as the entry level SL.

The new V6 produces 328 bhp and 480NM. This results in a 0-100 kph time of very respectable 5.2 seconds. From a car weighing around 1.6 tonnes powered by a V6 and with an old fashion auto, that’s quite am impressive feat. That’s similar to what the DB9 could do back in 2004 with a 450 bhp V12. That’s progress.

The new V6 may have lost 500cc in exchange for twin turbos but the result has dropped the 0-100 time by 0.7 seconds as well as reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (7.2L/100km and 172g/km respectively). Bhp is up by 26 and torque by 110NM. Those Germans are a mighty clever bunch aren’t they? Next thing you’ll know there’ll be a hybrid badge on the back of an SL.

So there you have it. The new SL400 is the thinking man’s SL. No longer is the entry model SL considered to be the ‘poor man’s’ choice. The SL400 won’t be as expensive to run as it looks while still being brisk enough to suit most drivers. It’s the thinking man’s SL. Me though, I’d have an SL63 AMG which, coincidentally has also had a power hike. Now with a total 577bhp, it’s now 48 up on the standard SL63 and 21 more than the Performance Package. Yes, that’ll do me very nicely indeed.

On a side note, rumours of Mercedes going back to a soft top roof for the next generation SL have popped up on the interweb. I’m not sure how I feel about that. To me the SL is a car that’s always had a hard top. Growing up with the R230 generation, that to me was what a Mercedes roadster should be.

The flipside is that a fabric roof would reduce weight and could make it a lot prettier. It’ll feel like a step backwards though. I like the current, well the previous arrangement, of the SL being a hardtop convertible while Merc’s halo convertible sports cars such as the SLR and SLS had soft tops.

Still, with the R231 generation being 2 years old the next generation SL should be a good decade away.