On a recent California tour with Mercedes-Benz I stopped by their Design Center in Carlsbad to preview the all new 2013 SL. At first glance the the completely redeveloped SL's aesthetic is both pleasing to the eye and the touch. The superlative 500 sports a new V8 with 435 hp, 22 percent reduced fuel consumption and increased torque, but aside from the seductive power and sleek design the real story lies in the innovative details. From an all-aluminum bodyshell to fluid dispensing windshield wipers, the 2013 SL boasts improved vision, increased sound and reduced weight.
Interestingly enough the car's least important piece of glass for driving—the sunroof—is the target of the new "Magic Sky Control." The "vario-roof" switches from light to dark with the press of a button. The idea is the virtually transparent roof offers a top-down type of experience even in unfavorable weather conditions, while the dark state shades passengers and prevents the car's interior from overheating in the sun (Magic Sky Control is pictured here on the SLK 55 AMG which also features this innovation). As a plus the magnesium roof frame has been upgraded to open or close in less than 20 seconds.
To achieve a more authentic sound experience, the new SL's bass loudspeakers have been strategically integrated into the front footwells, rather than the doors. This innovation—what Mercades calls "bass in your face"—provides a clean, clear and less distorted bass unseen or heard in any open-top roadster before it. Not only does it provide an improved experience for the passengers but by minimizing sound leakage pedestrians outside won't hear you coming from blocks away.
One of my favorites from the slew of innovations has to be the washer fluid dispensing windshield wipers. The intuitive design allows for windshield cleaning with the top down without getting a face full of washer fluid—solving one of the most annoying parts of driving a convertible. As the world's first wipe/wash system of this sort, it works seamlessly as to never allow either a water jet nor fluid film to be seen during the process, thus leaving a clean surface without any distractions to the driver. To up the ante the blade—which has channels for both fluid and electricity—automatically adapts the season at hand, warming the water in the winter and delivering a greater amount of water in the season.
Taking the "SL"—sporty, lightweight—moniker seriously the total weight of the 2013 has been cut down by 110 kilograms by casting it entirely in aluminum. This solution not only reduces weight but improves strength due to fewer welded joints. What this means for the driving experience? More dynamism, agility, less fuel consumption and an all around smoother ride. The rigid aluminum frame is vacuum die-cast to improve strength and therefore achieves higher safety levels.