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Lighter and more nimble Mercedes SL

  • Lightweight SL on sale next summer
  • Advanced suspension system planned
  • Magic windscreen wipers
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The new Mercedes-Benz SL, which is scheduled to go on sale in June 2012, will be built almost entirely from aluminium, making it 140kg lighter than its steel-bodied predecessor.

Only the windscreen surround is made from high-tensile steel to help protect occupants in a rollover situation.

The new car will also be constructed using the latest aero-industry friction-welding techniques, resulting in a car that's stronger and 20% stiffer than the old one.

Consequently, it should be better at resisting a crash impact and more resistant to body-flex when the roof is down.

Lighter also means faster, especially in the case of the high-performance AMG version. The latest twin-turbo 5.5litre V8 engine and seven-speed sports gearbox give it supercar performance.

There will be no diesel or hybrid versions, because there is no demand for them, according to Mercedes.

The smallest engine will be a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, while mid-spec cars will get a non-turbo version of the 5.5-litre V8.

The new SL is 60mm wider than the outgoing car. The added bonus of this growth is slightly more elbow room for occupants and enough boot space for a set of golf clubs, even with the roof folded.

Read our review of the current SL

Sophisticated suspension set-up
The SL is also likely to use ground-reading cameras as part of a new early warning system linked to the variable suspension dampers.

This system will read the road ahead and tell the suspension to react accordingly. It will allow the suspension to offer a far greater range of movement than current set-ups. Comfort and control will both benefit.

Further technical developments include Magic Vision Control, which is, effectively, perforated windscreen wiper blades.

When you need to clean the windscreen, water is supplied precisely as required. The system also recognises when the roof is down and will only supply water on the downward stroke of the wipers, so preventing water from spilling over the top of the screen into the cabin.