New!!!!! FIRST NEW SL REVIEW New!!!!!!!!!
The all new for 2003 Mercedes SL, is a breathtaking example of the fusion of heritage, technology, and tangible style. The first and most prominent factor in the design of the SL, was making it instantly distinguishable as a Mercedes SL roadster. This was done by mainting the old car's body stance: a long steeply sloping hood followed by a deeply raked windshield, sporty side view mirrors flow with the body line as it curves ever so slightly up to the boot before gently sloping down into the rear lights. From the front, the Mercedes symbol is the first thing that is noticed and brings reflections to the 1950's roadsters. But this is where Mercedes also incorporates their new elegant yet sporty quad headlamps. These new lamps which are reflective more of the Vision SLR then new C-Class, are covered in brilliant clear class and feature bi-xenon lights (most likely Europe only) and integrated turn signals. The front bumper incorporates oval foglamps and forms and upside down arc. The standard 17 in wheels fill the flared wheel wells perfectly while the thin 5 spoke wheels create a light athletic look. On the top of the hood there are triple speared air intakes, as well as dual-speared intakes on the sides are the old's Sl's tradmarks and help create a look of constant motion. Moving to the rear of the car, it is very rounded, but yet still sharp and cut with the solid red tail lights. Taken from the SLK, they cut deeply into the center of the rear, and flow into a rounded edge on the side of the car. And finally the Vario roof, when up, creates the look of an exotic coupe and completes the stance that the convertable suggests. Meanwhile the interior is a true make-over work of art. While its 12 year old predesseor had an extremely stark, conservative and horizontal dash layout, the new SL has a graceful, sloped, curvacious dash and interior treatment. The doors are covered in a tight section of flat leather with the upper portion covered in wood. They have a deep storage compartments with an aluminun latch. Meanwhile the door handles look like an organic extention from the center dash and help to complete a wide open atmosphere. The air outlets are circular and trimmed in aluminum as well. The central of the interior is dominated in a warm wood trimmed console or machined aluminum, that featuring a leather, wood, and aluminum clad shifter sourounded with a pod of controls at its base. At the top is the console is the standard COMAND system, and underneath are symetrical, pleasent loookng climate controls again trimmed in aluminum. But the most unique portion is at the very bottom, and that is the hard top operation control, which more looks like a emergency escape latch then a simple button. The seats meanwhile are clad in Nappa leather, and look similar to the CL, but offer greater lateral and side bolstering. They are 14-way adjustable, offer 3 memory settings, heat, cooling and most likely massage. In short they rival your finest Lazy Boy. The 4-spoke steering wheel is of a sligtly horizontal oval shape, reminisent of the SLR, and features oval overlapping incorporated buttons for the radio, and other features. Overall its elegant, with wood and leather yet sporty with its repedative oval theme. My favorite aspect of the interior however are the SLR derived instrument pods. The speedometer and tachometer are distinct, sharp and give the impression of an expensive Rolex Chonometer watch. When lit up they look their best with a light blue light, with cereleun deep blue oval clusters at bottom with the trip comptuters, tire pressure monitors, and distronic readings. And overall everything in this car is either leather, wood , aluminum, or plush carpeting. Truly returning Mercedes back to its repuation of luxurious quality. For years to come the styling with remain due to its strong emphesis on flowing curves, and attention to detail.
The Mercedes engineers have also put their minds to optimising torsional rigidity. The following SL body components help to achieve this aim:
-A multi-piece floor system with engine tunnel and reinforced tunnel bridge
-Steel panels under the seats with lateral and transverse stiffening
-A dual-shell cross member located below the front windscreen
-A cross member profile fixed under the instrument panel
-High-strength steel side members
-Dual-shell A-pillars with high-strength steel tubes
-Large and strong steel reinforcements in the lower B-pillars
-A robust high-strength cross member located behind the seats
-An aluminium partition wall behind the fuel tank
-A steel spare wheel well
-Diagonal struts between the sub-frame and forward section of the side member and in the rear between the spare wheel well and the rear section of the side member
The intense development work has produced impressive results. The static torsional flexing of the new SL body is only 3.37 millimetres per metre when the vario-roof is open - over 20 percent lower than that of its predecessor model. The differences are even greater when it comes to the static flexing of the engine tunnel and side member. And the new Mercedes roadster also scores top marks among open-top sports cars in the areas of dynamic torsion and flexible rigidity - reliable indicators of the vibration levels in a car.
It is my belief that at the time of its launch, this car wil be the most sophisticated car on the face of the earth. Granted two weeks later Lexus wil have have "invented" the same technologies. (Distronic Cruise control = Dynamic Laser Cruise Control, give me a break!). Anyways this car has more acryonmys then a webster dictionary : ASSYST, COMAND, ABC, ESP, ASC, SBC, etc). I am going to go through each of them. Hurry up and get some coffee.
COMAND - Cockpit Management and Data System
The visible centerpiece of the multifunction system is a color LCD display measuring twelve centimetres in diameter and shows all control displays and information. Behind the screen is an invisible system genius 32-bit processor that controls all the functions, manages the programs and is able to transmit video or TV pictures to the display. In addition, a cassette player and high quality car radio with two FM tuners are integrated into the central control panel. The COMAND system incorporates the Naviagtion System, CD Changer, BOSE sound system, car phone and Linguatronic Voice Control systems.
ASSYST - Active Service Center
Removes the need to physically monitor the car’s ‘health’, reduces running costs, increases the mobility of Mercedes-Benz customers and is kinder to the environment by saving resources. ASSYST actively monitors the wear and tear on the car, based on the driver’s style. The heart of this service system is the calculation of when an oil change is needed on the basis of predetermined characteristic variables, such as the moisture level in the oil and time since last service. The distance remaining before the next oil change is displayed in the instrument cluster. ASSYST permits service intervals of up to 30,000 kilometers, with the minimum interval being 15,000 km. Registered by an oil level sensor, oil top-ups between oil changes extend the oil change interval. (The oil level can be checked on a gauge in the instrument cluster, which warns the driver visually and audibly if the oil level is too high or low, or if the oil is overheating.) ASSYST displays either one or two spanner shaped symbols in the multifunction display to indicate whether a “major” or “minor” service is due.
ABC- Active Body Control
Further development: ABC with new load adjustment
The engineers at Mercedes have made further advances in the active suspension for the new SL, including the addition of a load adjustment element. This means that the system can now calculate the actual load in the vehicle and use this figure in the calculation processes of the active suspension. Using the plunger and spring, which sensors check constantly during the journey, the ABC computer keeps a running calculation of the vehicle weight and refers back to standard algorithms which counteract considerable body lift and pitch when the vehicle is heavily laden. A change in the weight of the vehicle, due to luggage being removed from the boot or because a passenger has got out, automatically triggers a further online calculation of the vehicle weight and the system then adapts the suspension characteristics to the new load level.
With high-pressure hydraulics, sophisticated sensors and powerful microprocessors, the active suspension system adapts the car body springing to the actual driving situation in a split second. In this way, Active Body Control reduces body movements by up to 68 percent when starting from rest, cornering and braking. Body movements are corrected by hydraulically driven servo cylinders in the suspension struts. These "plungers" are located between the coil springs and the body and apply additional forces in response to computer commands. This regulates the action of the springs as a function of body movements at lightning speeds of only ten milliseconds. The adjustment range of Active Body Control is limited to car body movements up to a maximum of five Hertz. These vibrations are generally caused by uneven roads or when braking or cornering. For the higher-frequency vibrations of the wheels, Mercedes-Benz continues, as before, to use passive gas-pressurised shock absorbers and coil springs, but with highly comfort-oriented tuning. The absence of stabiliser bars at both front and rear (made possible by the active suspension system) also has a positive effect on ride comfort.
With this system the driver can select either a comfort mode or a sports mode by operating a switch on the centre console. In comparison with air suspension, the SL will have sports-car like characteristics in both modes, without any compromise on comfort. So, when cornering, braking or accelerating, a pronounced levelling is felt. In sports mode, any tendency to roll into the curve is virtually eliminated up to 91 percent and the SL hugs the road when cornering. Vibrations from the road surface are dampened. In avoidance and slalom type manoeuvres, the car has no body roll, thanks to the specific ABC handling characteristics. ABC will give the average driver the feeling that he/she is sitting in a vehicle that, in terms of handling, comfort and safety, leaves nothing wanting. And for sporty drivers, the SL is setting the standards in its class for combining outstanding handling with a high level of ride comfort.
Like the AIRMATIC air suspension system of the S-Class, the ABC system also facilitates load independent all-round level control. When driving on poor roads or on snow, the driver can raise the level of the vehicle by means of a switch on the centre console. There is a choice of 2 levels: +24mm and + 49mm. The vehicle level can be raised when the engine is running, irrespective of whether the vehicle is stationery or on the move. If the vehicle has been raised, using the manual facility, to level 2 (49mm above the normal level), the level is steadily decreased as speed increases, until, at 30km/h, it reaches level 1 (24mm above the normal level). Level 1 is steadily decreased to the normal level between 30km/h and 140km/h. If the vehicle is in neither of these two modes, from a speed of 60km/h the normal level is slowly lowered automatically until it is 15mm below the normal level at an illegal speed of 140km/h. The vehicle raises itself again automaticaly once the speed drops below the 140km/h speed.
ESP - Electronic Stability Program -4th Generation
The next generation of the Electronic Stability Program is already at Mercedes-Benz. In this fourth-generation product, the engineers have further improved the interaction between ESP® and Brake Assist and have decoupled both functions from the brake booster. The brake pressure is developed instead by a new two-stage high-pressure pump in the ESP® hydraulic unit. On the one hand this pump provides the precise, smooth control required for the Electronic Stability Program and on the other it is so powerful that it can act as a Brake Assist system which and can carry out an emergency braking operation at a maximum pressure of up to 200 bar with split-second speed. The necessary signals are supplied by the wheel speed sensors, the brake light switch and two pressure sensors in the hydraulic unit, which are already used for the Electronic Stability Program. The diaphragm travel sensor and the brake booster solenoid are no longer required. In other words, like ESP®, Brake Assist too will in future operate hydraulically, using the existing ESP infrastructure. The invention of the Electronic Stability Program ESP® by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch has made an important contribution to active safety. This unique system is able to defuse potential accident situations by identifying delayed or inappropriate reactions on the part of the driver and then efficiently correcting these steering or braking errors. It does this even under extreme conditions, although it can never go so far as to suspend the laws of physics. What's more, sensor signals and simulations allow the system to identify hazards even before the driver has a chance to react. The system can therefore intervene extremely quickly in an emergency – much more quickly than even the most experienced driver. Thus with ESP, accident prevention is firmly anchored in the safety strategy of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
SBC - Sensotronic Brake Control
Sensotronic Brake Control (SBC) is the name given to an innovative electronically controlled brake system which Mercedes-Benz will fit to future passenger car models. Following on from the Mercedes innovations ABS, ASR, ESP® and Brake Assist, this system is regarded as yet another important milestone to enhance driving safety. With Sensotronic Brake Control electric impulses are used to pass the driver’s braking commands onto a microcomputer which processes various sensor signals simultaneously and, depending on the particular driving situation, calculates the optimum brake pressure for each wheel. As a result, SBC offers even greater active safety than conventional brake systems when braking in a corner or on a slippery surface. A high-pressure reservoir and electronically controllable valves ensure that maximum brake pressure is available much sooner. Moreover, the system offers innovative additional functions to reduce the driver’s workload. These include Traffic Jam Assist, which brakes the vehicle automatically in stop-and-go traffic once the driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator. The Soft-Stop function – another first – allows particularly soft and smooth stopping in town traffic. It is not just in emergency braking that Sensotronic Brake Control proves its worth, but also in other critical situations – for example, when there is a risk of swerving. Under such conditions, the system interacts with the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) which keeps the vehicle safely on course through precise braking impulses at all wheels and/or by reducing engine speed. SBC once again offers the benefits of greater dynamics and precision: thanks to the even faster and more accurate braking impulses from the SBC high-pressure reservoir, ESP® is able to stabilise early and comfortably a vehicle which is about to break away.
This is evident, for example, from the results of the VDA lane-change test which suspension engineers use to simulate a quick obstacle-avoidance manoeuvre and to demonstrate the high capabilities of the Electronic Stability Program. In conjunction with SBC, ESP® works even more effectively and significantly reduces vehicle swerving through quick and precise braking impulses.
At the same time the driver’s steering effort is reduced. Thanks to SBC and ESP® he or she will have even less difficulty keeping the car on course.
The so-called Soft-Stop function of the SBC software ensures particularly gentle and smooth stopping which provides significant comfort benefits particularly around town when you need to slow down frequently for traffic lights. On a wet road surface the Dry Braking Function system meters out short brake impulses at regular intervals to ensure that the water film on the brake discs dries off and that SBC can always operate with optimum effectiveness. The Traffic Jam Assist Functions during stop-and-go traffic so that drivers only need to use the accelerator pedal; once they take their foot off the accelerator, SBC slows down the car to standstill at a steady rate of deceleration. The Sensotronic Brake Control Drive-Away Assist prevents the car from rolling backwards or forwards – stepping onto the brake pedal quickly but sharply is all it takes to activate the brake.
New Airbag designed for the SL that deploys in a side-impact crash. It covers the area from the neck to the abdomen. It also helps prevent objects such as glass from entering the car and further injuring the occupents.
Thanks to an integral vehicle safety concept, the SL-Class is on course to set the standard for a whole new generation of sports cars. The concept encompasses every aspect of vehicle safety - from crash avoidance by means of electronic safety systems such as SBC, ABC, Brake Assist or ESP®, and the high-strength body structure, to the fastest possible rescue of the car's occupants in the event of an accident with TeleAid. Occupant protection is optimised by the high-strength body structure and, among other things, two-stage airbags for the driver and passenger, new head-thorax bags in the doors, new integral seats, seat belt tensioners, belt force limiters and the sensor-controlled roll-over bar.
Also anoticable improvements over the previous SL, the drag coefficient has been dropped nine percent to .29, while torsial regidity has been increased by adding high-strenth steel components. The SL sports car also features a sophisticated, lightweight body: the bonnet, front wings, doors, boot lid, fuel tank partition and other components are made from aluminium, the most prominent lightweight component being the bonnet measuring some 1.40 metres in length. Never before has such a large and complex component been mass produced using aluminium alone. It is about 15 kilograms lighter than a comparable steel bonnet.
As for security it will feature the Mercedes trademark SmartKey which generates a different electronic code every time you lock and unlock your car to prevent cloning. Its security features also incorporate a safeguard against Towing that triggers the alarm if the car senses a change in its angle in realtion to the ground. If somehow the car is stolen, the standard Tele-Aid system immediatly can track your car using GPS and recover your car by relaying that information to police dispachers.
The powerful V8 engine is continued from the previous SL500. Squeezing 306 hp and 336 lb of torque from its five-litre capacity, and it ranks as one of the most potent engines in this vehicle class, meets the strict EU-4 emissions requirements and propels the new SL 500 from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.0 seconds. And with a fuel economy of 12.7 litres per 100 kilometres, the new model is on a par with its predecessor, despite a host of new comfort and safety equipment. Later the SL320 will follow.