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New Mercedes SL-Class: first pictures

18 January 2006

These new pictures show that Mercedes' new SL-Class is a definitely a case of evolution, not revolution.

Despite the subtle changes to the exterior, though, there have been many changes to the mechanics and chassis. The greatest of these changes are to the new SL-Class' powertrain, as all-new V6 and V8 engines have been developed for the car, and the bi-turbo V12 has been uprated, too.

The SL 350 carries the new 3.5-litre V6 motor, which develops 272bhp and propels the car to 62mph in 6.6 seconds – half a second faster than the previous model. It returns 27.4mpg on the combined cycle.

The SL 500 carries the other new engine in the range, the 388bhp 5.5-litre V8. This newly developed engine develops 391lb ft of pulling power, so expect huge amounts of shove in the new car. It boosts the 500 to 62mph in 5.4 seconds, almost a second faster than the previous model. Fuel consumption is 23.2mpg.

The final engine in the range is the 5.5-litre twin-turbo V12 unit, fitted to the SL 600. Although not a new engine, it has been uprated to develop 517bhp, and churns out a whopping 612bhp of pull. It's enough to do the 0-62 dash in 4.5 seconds.

The V6 and V8 models are equipped with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission as standard, while a 7G-Tronic Sport option comes with steering-wheel gearchange paddles.

Drivers can convert the coupe into a roadster by flicking a switch, the changeover taking 16 seconds. A glass version of the convertible roof is available as an option.

The new cars make their debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March – come back to whatcar.com for more pictures and information then. The cars will be in UK showrooms from that month, too.

SL 350 £62,855
SL 500 £75,880
SL 600 £101,220

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