The Los Angeles Auto Show never fails to produce some exciting reveals. This year is no exception, with the unveiling of the updated 2017 Mercedes SL lineup. The SL (Sportlich-Leicht, or Sport Lightweight) represents the high-end of the Mercedes Roadster lineup. We provided detailed coverage of the history of the SL lineup, including speculations about the 2017 redesign, last week.
Now that the official details are in, it’s clear that Mercedes has shifted the styling from the low, muscular styling of the outgoing models that was reminiscent of the SLS toward the aesthetic that was introduced with the CLA. Specifically, this car calls to mind the AMG GT, though with slightly less aggressive shoulders in the front; the new styling includes a more subtle grill, redesigned front air intakes, a sloping hood, and new headlights. The overall look is much more refined (dare I say subtle?) from a brand that seems to be returning to some of its more traditional styling roots. From the side and the back, the car looks fairly similar to the outgoing model. The taillights extend a little further down the side of the body, and there are some new vents in the back, but the overall aesthetic is unlikely to offend any fans of the current styling. There are a few new accents added to it to ensure that others drivers on the road are able to distinguish that you have the latest and greatest. The body will continue to be made mostly from diecast, chilled-cast, hydroformed, and extruded aluminum to keep weight down.
The lineup has been changed slightly to accommodate mechanical tweaks to the non-AMG trim levels. The outgoing SL400 is replaced by the SL450. Similarly, the outgoing SL500 finds new life as the SL550. The thoroughbreds of the lineup — the AMG trim models — retain the same names, the SL63 AMG and SL65 AMG. They are distinguishable from their less potent siblings due to exchanging chrome accents for glossy black. Especially in the white body color that was included in the press photos, it creates a striking appearance.
Mercedes has confirmed that there will be some technical and powertrain upgrades for the non-AMG models to go along with the new style. The engine of the SL450 gains 33 horsepower over its predecessor (362 compared to 329). The rest of the lineup is keeping the same engines: a 4.7 liter bi-turbo V8 in the 550 (449 horsepower), a handcrafted 5.5 liter AMG bi-turbo V8 in the SL63 AMG (577 horsepower), and the handcrafted 6.0L liter AMG bi-turbo V12 in the SL65 AMG (621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque).
The SL450 and SL550 will receive the nine-speed 9G-Tronic transmission while the AMG models keep the seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmissions, though with modified software to improve shift speeds. Mercedes claims that the SL450 will reach 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds, an improvement of 0.2 seconds over the SL400. Driver aids like DYNAMIC SELECT and Active Body Control should help to make this cars both comfortable as a cruiser and extremely potent (like its predecessor) when the roads start to twist. And, as ever, the sumptuous interior will help to keep you comfortable the whole way.
The outgoing models started at a $85,050 MSRP for the “baby” SL400 and went up to a base $217,550 MSRP for the SL65 AMG. The 2017 models will continue with a similar pricing schedule, both increased by about 1%. The base model, now the SL450, will start at roughly $86,000 and the top-trim, the SL65 AMG, will start in the $220,000 range. For those who can afford it and are looking for a stylish, comfortable way to blast through sunny weather with the top down, this should be a serious contender.