23 January 2008

SL out

Merc's big convertible is the latest to get the nosejob and detox treatment

Mercedes SL

Merc's New Year makeover continues at pace with the new SL.

We've already seen the SLK and CLS get the nosejob 'n' detox treatment, and now it's the turn of the big convertible, which we already rate as one of the best-looking drop-tops around. 

The SL gets a new front end reflecting Merc's new design philosophy, with a pair of long powerdomes on the bonnet and a single-bar grille replacing the old three-bar effort. 

We like the new triple gills on the front wing with their central strake - very SL300, but not as aggressive as the vents on the SLR.

Away from the visual updates, the biggest news is the addition of a baby V6 to the range in the shape of the SL280. Developing 228bhp and 221lb ft of torque, the three-litre is expected to return around 30mpg and haul the SL to 60mph in 7.8 seconds.

We also hear that the bigger V6 in the SL350 has had a power hike to 311bhp, though there's no word yet on whether the SL55 AMG is to be replaced by the bigger 6.2-litre V8 from the C63: a likely move, but we're very fond of that smaller V8.

Inside the cabin, the SL gets a similar refresh to the CLS, with a new three-spoke steering wheel and white gauges. Like the SLK, there's a new variable ratio, speed sensitive steering system, which should sharpen up the SL's cornering without affecting the legendary Merc straight-line stability.

The new SL is due to be officially unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March and will go on sale soon after.

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