The restyled 2009-model SL roadster is an iconic sports car that’s a direct descendant of the legendary 300SL “Gullwing” of the 1950s. The new SL features dramatic new styling with fenders that incorporate bold new headlamps and modified gill-type air outlets behind the front wheels. A redesigned hood with twin power domes and a wider, single-bar grille emphasizes the width of the body and makes a symbolic visual connection to the famous 1954 300SL. Standard AMG body styling further enhances the aggressive new appearance.
Larger side mirrors reveal built-in arrow-shaped turn signals. At the rear, the SL looks sportier than ever, with a new air diffuser in the bumper that adds a motorsports touch, as well as trapezoidal exhaust tips that emphasize its width and suggest all the power that’s on tap.
Centre-stage in the cockpit are a new-design three-spoke steering wheel and a restyled instrument cluster with eye-catching red tachometer and speedometre needles that swing to the max position and back to zero whenever the ignition is turned on.
V8 and V12 Power
The SL roadster models for 2009 feature a choice of V8 and V12 power plants. The SL550 is powered by a 5.5 litre V8 producing 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. The 5.5 litre bi-turbo V12-powered SL600 generates 510 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque, while the SL65 AMG delivers 603 hp and a monstrous 738 lb.-ft. of torque from a 6.0 litre bi-turbo V12.
The 518 hp SL63 AMG is powered by a 6.2-litre V8 engine, the first engine developed from the ground up by AMG, featuring four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, bucket tappets (rather than rocker arms) and a variable intake manifold. Sharing no parts with Mercedes-Benz V8 engines, the 6.2-litre engine was a completely autonomous development at AMG. Built almost completely from a high-strength silicon-aluminium alloy, the cylinder bores make use of a twin-wire-arc-sprayed (TWAS) coating, a process that results in impressively low friction and running surfaces that are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinders.
The high-flow intake and exhaust ports form a vertical straight line, helping the engine rev freely to more than 7,000 rpm, yet the highly flexible AMG engine still produces nearly 90 percent of its peak torque at only 2,000 rpm.
A finely balanced crankshaft with six counterweights spins in five main crankshaft bearings. The crankshaft counterweights feature heavy metal plugs – a detail usually found only in racing engines – which means they can be significantly smaller, increasing power by reducing rotational inertia and oil drag.
A 300 km/h Option
The SL63 AMG can be ordered with the optional performance package that allows a 300 km/h (186-mph) top speed instead of the usual 250 km/h (155-mph) speed limiter. Other features in the package include AMG high-performance suspension based on ABC active suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, larger front discs (391 mm (15.4- inch) diameter), a limited-slip differential and a leather and smaller AMG sport steering wheel with flattened underside and silver aluminium shift paddles, and staggered-width tires: 255 / 35 ZR 19 in front and 285 / 30 ZR 19 at the rear.
Five and Seven-Speed Automatics
The SL600 uses a modified five-speed automatic transmission, while the SL65 AMG is matted to an AMG SpeedShift five-speed automatic. The SL550 features the 7G-TRONIC, seven-speed automatic. This transmission improves acceleration and enhances fuel efficiency, while gear changes are barely noticeable, especially in the higher gears. The seven-speed shortens 0-to-100 km/h time and allows significantly quicker acceleration for highway passing.
MCT Transmission – The Best of Both Worlds
The SL63 AMG features an innovative start-up clutch that replaces a conventional torque converter, the AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed sports transmission (for multi-clutch technology) transmission combines the direct connection of a manual gearbox with the lightning-quick automatic gear shifts of a Formula 1 race car. Featuring seven speeds, four shift modes and a double-clutching function, the MCT transmission offers impressive versatility and even faster shift times.
At the heart of the new AMG Speedshift MCT seven-speed sports transmission is a new start-up clutch, which runs in an oil bath and replaces a conventional torque converter. Thanks to its low rotational mass, the start-up clutch helps the transmission respond instantaneously and dynamically with no slip.
Fitted with four drive modes: “C” (Comfort), “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport plus) and “M” (Manual), the transmission provides customized shift control for maximum driving pleasure, and does so with no interruption of power. In Comfort mode, smooth shifts coupled with a “soft” accelerator response are set up for silky smooth power transfer. In Sport mode, the engine and transmission interact quicker – upshifts and downshifts take place at higher engine speed. Gearshifts are around 20 percent faster than in Comfort mode. Switching to the Sport Plus mode cuts another 20 percent off shift times, while the sportiest mode, Manual, reduces shifting times by another 10 percent – a total reduction of 50 percent compared with Comfort mode. In Manual mode, the gearshifts take just 100 milliseconds.
The SL63 Gets Unique Styling Touches
The SL63 comes with a distinctive AMG front hood that’s noticeably different from other SL models, as well as a new front apron with a more pronounced wedge shape, larger cooling air intakes, and a black grille. Bi-xenon headlights with black surrounds and large round fog lights ringed in chrome and set well to the side emphasize the vehicle’s width.
Hot air from the engine exits through side air outlets in the front fenders and from the “gills” behind the front wheels. Trim panels finished in matte silver with “6.3 AMG” lettering catch the eye, as do new outside mirrors with arrow-shaped LED turn indicators.
SL63 AMG body styling also includes deeper AMG side sill panels and a beefy-looking rear apron that incorporates a large black air diffuser and two pairs of chrome tailpipes. An AMG rear lip spoiler on the trunk lid reduces lift, especially at high speeds.
Finished in nappa leather and genuine carbon fibre, the interior features standard AMG sport seats, an AMG three-spoke steering wheel and a sport instrument cluster with red tach and speedometre needles that swing to the max position and back whenever the ignition is turned on.
AIRSCARF Around the Head and Neck
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL roadster is now available with AIRSCARF, an innovative feature that can extend the open-air driving season into the cooler months. Another technological first from Mercedes, AIRSCARF is an extra heating system built into the driver and passenger head restaraints. The AIRSCARF neck-level heating system blows warm air from the head restraints using a heating element made primarily of barium titanate, which heats up in a matter of seconds when an electrical current is applied.
Optional on the SL550 and SL63 AMG and standard on the SL600 and SL65 AMG models, the AIRSCARF neck-level heating system compensates automatically for changes in air temperature and vehicle speed. AIRSCARF comes with a three-speed switch and an electronic control module that monitors data from the speedometre as well as from inside and outside temperature sensors. AIRSCARF automatically adjusts the fan speed based on this information, and at the same time, the switch can override the automatic settings.
New Direct-Steer System
The restyled SL roadster will boast even more athletic performance thanks to a clever new direct-steer system (available on 2010MY vehicles). A variable-ratio rack gear provides impressively quick on-centre steering with an even higher gear ratio beyond the first five degrees of steering angle. This means the driver doesn’t have to move the steering wheel as far when cornering, especially in low-speed maneuvers such as parking, and the car’s response is noticeably more direct.
New Audio Technology
With its 16.5 cm (6.5-inch) colour display screen, the standard COMAND system with GPS navigation has been refined with a new Media Interface and a four gigabyte hard drive as well as an integrated six-disc CD-DVD player and a Music Register for around 1,000 MP3 tracks. The Media Interface makes it easy to connect an iPod, USB stick, memory card and other devices. Music tracks can be indicated on the COMAND display located on the centre console as well as a smaller display in the centre of the instrument cluster, and they can be selected easily using the buttons on the multi-function steering wheel.
Bluetooth-enabled cell phones will work hands-free – even with the phone in a pocket or purse, the audio is automatically muted when a call is made or received, and callers are heard over the audio system speakers.
From Coupe to Roadster in 16 Seconds
At the push of a button, the SL’s retractable hardtop can be fully opened or closed in just 16 seconds, transforming the car from a quiet, weather-tight coupe to a top-down, open-air convertible. A hydraulic pump and 11 computer-controlled hydraulic cylinders power the system, and roof operation is controlled by a switch on the centre console. A clever folding design allows for a surprisingly large cargo area of 204 litres (7.2 cubic feet) when the top is down. With the top up, the trunk holds 288 litres (10.2 cubic feet).
The World’s Safest Convertible
Widely acclaimed as one of the world’s safest convertibles, the SL provides sports car performance with all the built-in safety that’s expected from Mercedes-Benz. Since an open car can leave its occupants vulnerable in a rollover, Mercedes engineers met the challenge in the SL with the world’s first automatic roll bar. Normally part of the interior’s rear-compartment surround structure, the padded, leather-covered bar pops up, locking in place in a third of a second if sensors detect an impending rollover. The driver can also raise and lower the bar by a switch on the console.
Major Stopping Power for All SL Models
Excellent stopping power for the SL is provided by large, four-wheel disc brakes enhanced with four-channel ABS anti-lock control. The SL550 is equipped with vented 350 mm (13.8-inch) front and solid 320 mm (12.6-inch) rear discs. Matched to its power and speed capability, The SL 63 AMG and the SL600 come with even larger 360 mm (14.2-inch) vented rotors up front and 330 mm (13.0-inch) vented rotors at the rear, while the SL65 AMG boasts vented discs that are another 30 mm (1.2 inches) in diameter.
ABC Active Suspension Gives Cat-Like Agility
The SL chassis uses a fully independent, double-control-arm front suspension and the patented Mercedes-Benz five-link rear suspension. All SL models come with second-generation Active Body Control (ABC). Mercedes-Benz engineers use ABC’s interplay of hydraulic, electronic and mechanical parts to reduce body roll by 68 percent (compared to the same vehicle with a conventional suspension), providing the driver with needed feedback through the vehicle chassis. A ‘Sport’ switch on the centre console can make it 95 percent reduced roll, along with tighter shock damping. Active suspension solves the usual tradeoff between ride comfort and handling precision, so SL roadsters offer excellent comfort and league-leading handling.
AMG models use special software programming specific to the model, akin to tuning the spring rates, shock damping and roll stiffness of a conventional suspension. AMG struts with firmer damping and fully reworked systems such as ABS anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist, ASR traction control and ESP stability control complement the enhanced AMG chassis.
About Mercedes-Benz Canada
Mercedes-Benz Canada is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of the three brands within the Mercedes Car Group in Canada; Mercedes-Benz, smart, and Maybach. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Mercedes-Benz Canada employs approximately 990 people in 19 locations across Canada. Through a nationwide network of 18 Mercedes-Benz owned retail operations and 39 authorized dealerships, Mercedes-Benz Canada sold 18,547 vehicles in 2007, the best year ever reported for Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc.