2013 SL Revealed
Evolution rather than Revolution for the new SL
We reported last month on developments for the next generation SL. While much technical information was forthcoming from Mercedes-Benz, non-camouflaged images were not. The bulky cladding intended to obscure the new SL’s true shape did not fully hide what seemed to be a conservative, evolutionary design. These just-released images of the final design confirm our suspicions.
EU pedestrian safety drives designs
Daimer AG chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche summed the SL’s position on the marketplace succinctly: “There are around 900 million cars in the world and thousands of models. But there are only a handful of automotive icons. Our SL is one of them.” Indeed.
We covered much of the new car’s fabulous technology in last month’s 2013 SL Update. The new SL500 is 125kg lighter and produces 53hp more than 2011’s edition. Technology marches on and the fact that the 2013 V6 SL350 – likely a Europe only edition – produces more power (306hp) than a 2006 V8 SL500 starkly illustrates this.
Is this new car as pure and attractive as the original R230 design introduced in spring of 2002 as a 2003 model? Arguably no. European designers had far more freedom during previous design cycles. Today, strict regulations regarding hood, bumper and grille design must be incorporated in any new model. By 2015, the EU demands that automakers’ products make collisions survivable when they occur between a pedestrian and a car moving at 40kph (24.9 mph).
“The new SL illustrates the conundrum of the regulations: How to marry the fundamentally chunky nose with an attractive and stylish midriff and tail.”
A fundamental driver in today’s designs is the mandated three inch clearance between mechanical items and the underside of a hood. This gap provides a crush zone to soften the blow when a pedestrian’s head contacts the hood when struck by a car. Future pedestrian safety measures may include ‘active’ hoods and infrared sensing technology. So, the bluff noses we see today on are here to stay.
The new SL illustrates the conundrum of the regulations: How to marry the fundamentally chunky nose with an attractive and stylish midriff and tail. Interest in overall design harmony dictates the remaining aspects of the design should should remain, well…related. Hence tails and belt lines are expanding. Compare the new SL with the original 2003 R230 SL shape and all becomes clear.
Oh, we shouldn’t forget to mention Mercedes-Benz is also offering new apps for the new SL: in addition to a free news app and a Facebook app, there are optional Mercedes-Benz apps for stock prices and a car park finder. A Yelp app to look for restaurants is available for the US market. Yes, it’s a new world on all fronts for the latest SL…
Roy Spencer, editor MercedesHeritage.com
Photography from Daimler Media.
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