Just another weekend, just another hot car test, eh? Arf. The new Mercedes-Benz SL 400, as you will notice, isn’t your typical hot convertible. Sportscar? GT? Saloon? The new Mercedes-Benz SL 400 remains hard to categorise. H.Soukar finds out how the range-topping supercar stacks against all its competitors.
The new Mercedes-Benz SL 400 looks utterly different from the standard car, not least with its extraordinary exterior lines reminiscent of an SLR. The new Mercedes-Benz SL400 picks up minor styling changes, updated technology and a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The large front end sweeps through to the passenger cabin and wide rear. It features signature chrome hood elements, gills on the sides.
A three-part roof, with sections consisting of steel, rubber, and plastic, folds away at the touch of a button in a mere of less than 17 seconds.
More about this in the following video:
I spent time driving with the roof on and off and found that the new Mercedes-Benz SL 400 doesn’t scuttle shake anywhere near as badly as it once did.
Another design directive for the new Mercedes-Benz SL 400 was greater refinement without sacrificing practicality. The steering, too, is keen for every input and points the nose into a corner with a deft flick of the driver’s wrist. The suspension remains soft but not sloppy, helping it ride out mid-corner intrusions without suddenly upsetting the SL 400’s inherent balance.
Unlike the engine which remains similar to the pre-face-lift version, the gearbox has witnessed an array of improvements, through which it has changed from a seven-speed to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine is capable of producing 270kW of power and 500Nm of torque, going through 7.8L/100km on the combined cycle in the process.
The Infotainment System
The car comes equipped with a small seven-inch COMAND system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to the Mercedes-Benz online feature suite. The LINGUATRONIC voice recognition system is considered as the saviour of this system, as it can complete all user commands, such as entering full navigation addresses or even finding the most foreign of names.
Standard equipment includes 11-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system; 19-inch alloy wheels; electrically adjustable steering; radar cruise control; autonomous emergency braking; blind spot monitor; key-less entry and start; front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera; full electric seats; adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beam; lane departure assistant; heated and cooled seats; DAB+ digital radio with TV tuner and voice recognition.
Mercedes-Benz engineers have beefed up the suspension and tweaked the damper settings in a bid to make it drive as smooth as possible. The gearbox is always in the right gear and ready to kick down to the correct cog. Using the Dynamic Select system, the driver can switch between Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Eco with each mode offering a varying level exhaust sound, throttle response and steering weighting.
While the Sport and Sport+ modes offer plenty of response and intuitive gear management, drivers can take over gear shifts at any point with the steering wheel mounted paddle-sifters.
Slipping the car into Sport or Sport+ increases suspension firmness thanks to variable dampers. It doesn’t make the ride uncomfortable but certainly makes it firmer than the comfort mode.
Since the SL-Class doesn’t use air suspension, one can turn on Active Body Control, which is but a hydraulic oil system that drives pressure to each corner of the car to eradicate body roll. This technology comes in handy in the AMG models, but it’s not needed in models like the SL400 that already ride well and have limited body roll.
During spirited driving, the Sport mode offers a nice balance between firmness and steering weight, allowing the car to be driven like a much nimbler sports car. The body sticks to the fact of being pretty flat and the 285mm wide rubber at the rear bids plenty of grip.
The editor’s note
If you’re on the hunt for a supercar, there is a no better option than the SL400. The new Mercedes-Benz SL 400 has been the quintessential mature sports car, but the latest generation manages to be both more sporty and more luxurious. The SL feels Aston Martin Rapide Squick, it sounds fantastic and its chassis copes fine. Last but not least, the interior feels lavish and stately, especially with the light-brown leather interior and dashboard stitching.