Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Adrian Wong
It’s everything you’d expect of a luxury cabriolet – the Mercedes-Benz SL350 gives a smooth drive, has a silent cabin accompanied with smooth interior upholstery and plenty of compartment space. True to its reputation and heritage, the SL has been living up to its name for the past 60 years, evolving to its sixth generation of today. Manufactured since 1954, the ‘SL’ moniker came about from the German ‘Sport Leicht’ or Sport Lightweight and was first applied to the 300SL Gullwing.
The SL is a technological beauty filled with advanced features, a lighter body and more efficient engines that combine performance with fuel economy. Mercedes has put together an almost faultless package in the form of a roaster called the SL, giving it a serious weight loss exercise with kilos shed off its roof, seats, suspension, brakes and more.
Made almost entirely from aluminium, the body shell now weighs a lot lighter than its predecessor that was made in steel. This new SL has a lot more electronics and gadgets, yet it has managed to save significant weight. The SL350 for example, tips the scales at 1,685kg and is a whole 140kg lighter than its predecessor.
It may be the entry-level SL, but the SL350 is not short on power with its 3.5-litre V6 engine pumping a maximum of 306bhp and 370Nm.
Driven to its rear wheels with a seven-speed automatic transmission, the SL350 takes a quick 5.9 seconds to get up to 100km/h from nothing. Go harder on the pedal and you will start to feel the car shift out of its comfort zone into brutality. There is some lag to the power delivery though, giving the car a relaxed demeanour about it.
The weather in Singapore has started to become really hot so I left the roof up until the sun set, taking the top down to the cool night air. Between the two driving modes I could choose – Comfort or Sport – there is no surprise which I preferred. In Sport, the SL350 tightens up and gives a firmer ride with better control and more responsive steering. Leave it in Comfort and you can feel the car loosen up for a more contented drive.
A lot of new features have been put into the car, including the Magic Vision Control – an adaptive wiper and washer system that cleans the windscreen without the splash of water. This way, the driver does not get a disruption in vision. The SL is the first vehicle to be equipped with this and it even has different functions for summer, winter (not applicable for Singapore) and cabriolet operation. The magic doesn’t stop there – the SL350 also has the Magic Sky Control which can control the amount of sunlight entering the panoramic glass roof.
Other new things in the SL350 include the electric draught-stop for the least disturbance to your hair from drafts, attention assist that detects when drivers get drowsy, active parking assist, an eco start-stop function and hands free access for contactless operation with the boot lid.
With increased dimensions, the SL offers a lot of space but my taller-than-average passenger felt that he had to compromise between recline and leg room. Much longer and wider, there is more shoulder room and elbow room. For me, I largely appreciated the ample pockets behind the seats to store my handbag, instead of having to embarrassingly ask the passenger to hold it for me in his lap.
Driving the SL was a bit intimidating initially, for its sheer size and the amount of prestige oozing from it. I even felt the need to dress up to drive it!
Chock full of electronic qualities and goodies, there are buttons for almost everything.
I thought it was a bit strange to have all the controls to the left side of the steering wheel though.
After all the weight-saving and performance boosting measures, the SL is a sweet package to drive. It may not be as zippy as a compact speedy Japanese two-seater but in return, you get much more comfort, taking away the distance from long journeys. The SL is definitely something that you want to be seen in, best from behind the wheel.
At A Glance
Engine: 3,498cc V6 (M272)
Transmission: 7G-Tronic PLUS automatic
Performance: 306bhp/6,500rpm, 370Nm/3,500-5,250rpm, 0-100kmh 5.9 secs
Top Speed: 250km/h
Price with COE: $477,888
Testdrive & Enquiries: Cycle & Carriage
Tel: 6298 1818
In a Nutshell
(+) Retains its heritage well while moving with times
(-) A little too laid-back
Verdict: Everything you would ask for in a luxury roadster
*This was published in Wheels Asia magazine.