Mercedes-Benz appears to be taking seriously the words its SL roadster is supposed to represent: Sport, Leicht – or Light, in English. The German maker has revealed that with the planned launch of an all-new version of the SL line, the 2-seater will migrate to a new, lightweight aluminum body.
That should shave nearly 250 pounds off the weight of the sports car, but the maker plans additional efforts that will bring the overall curbweight of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550 model down by as much as 310 pounds.
“The effect is rather as if a heavyweight-class passenger had got out of the car and taken his heavy flight luggage too,” explains Dr Thomas Rudlaff.
Along with the extensive use of aluminum in the next-gen SL’s body and chassis, Mercedes is integrating other lightweight materials, such as the magnesium used in the rear panels. And while steel isn’t being abandoned entirely, German engineers have shifted to the use of extremely high-strength alloys – for components such as the A-pillars — that allow further weight reductions while still improving the strength and stiffness of the overall body and chassis.
The new SL will reverse the trend Mercedes – like many of its competitors – has followed in recent decades, each new model getting bigger and heavier as new content is added to the SL which must also meet ever more stringent government safety regulations.
But with new fuel economy standards going into effect in the U.S., Europe and other key markets cutting weight has become critical. Porsche has cut about 100 pounds out of the new 911 it recently introduced. (Click Here for our review of the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S.)
“The result is perceptible and measurable. Less weight means more dynamism and less consumption. In other words: the motoring enjoyment increases and the environmental burden sinks,” said Mercedes’ Rudlaff.
There are other big changes in store for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL, the company has revealed, including the new Magic Vision Control which it describes as an “adaptive windscreen washing system.” Instead of the usual spray of water the cleaning fluid will be channeled through laser-cut openings on the wiper blades themselves.
And for those who like the boom of a good audio system, the maker says the new body shell will allow it to mount its new FrontBass subwoofers in front of the footwell, rather than in back – as is typical with today’s cars. That approach, Mercedes claims, will make it easier to enjoy good audio even with the SL’s top open.