DETROIT: Mercedes SL-Class proves its old magic with modern power

With its split facia and a slate of premium models, it seems a natural fit for home entertainment.

DETROIT – What can be more worthy of the 99th birthday of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class than a vehicle that managed to stick with its inspiration aeons after it vanished from production?

A New Mercedes SL Stresses Horsepower and Verve: spec this car and bask in its long tail and myriad aerodynamic cues

Pegged at $155,000 by the Big D, the 2019 model begins life as a special version to celebrate its a centenary next year. You can’t actually buy it, but you can be sure it won’t cost you any more than the down payment on the £184,000, C43. A reintroduction of the 1972 model to the stock market some three decades after its initial boom. Looks like a success to us.

The commemorative ST comes packed with horsepower-boosting technologies designed to hound your accelerator pedal like a French stalking dog intent on spoiling your enjoyment. It’s a mature interpretation of a car that initially went against the grain of conventional coupes in design, channelling the sleek elegance of the defunct badge “linea de coupe” in a sporty, cinched-in chassis. This meant an end to chunky, protruding doors and uppers.

It also saw a dramatic change in the output, too. As well as consuming massive amounts of fuel, the original SL-Class was powered by a 1.9-litre, Dictator engine and equipped with middling 600hp. This had nothing on the 2.6-litre, V8 that instantly put out a staggering 666hp. Compared to its predecessor, the 2019 ML47 SL-Class gets its power output from the supercharged 3.0-litre, V6 eight-cylinder unit, tipping the scales at 416hp. If nothing else, the MultiJet II shift technology ensures efficiency in operation, enabling the car to switch between four gears and eight while sticking with your foot. That gives it a top speed of 186mph.

The cabin has been suitably re-thought for greater comfort, too. Traditional leg rests have been replaced by stalks for ease of use, and the door openings have been deepened for smooth, relaxing transitions into and out of the vehicle. It is also achieved with a technology that blends two continuous layers into a seamless harmonious enclosure.

In this configuration, the gear lever is distributed rather than discretely housed behind the steering wheel. Instead, it stands in front of your eyes, giving you the ultimate experience of driver concentration when shifting. The £31,000 trim pack brings an intuitive Seat shifter and slotted, controlled tilt-adjustable steering wheel. You can also choose among a menu of display options with the tilt controls.

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