Do Mercedes Have A Hit With The New 2017 SL?

Last year, photographs of the new 2017 SL started to appear online. Obviously, Mercedes did all they could to cover up the new design of the car. But it was evident, under all the plastic paneling, that we were due a big upgrade to the front end.

Mercedes-Benz SL 350

For many, that was good news. The 2013 SL model was just too boxy for many people’s liking. The car hardly had any of the pedigree of its predecessors, most notably the 300SL. That car was elegant, with rounded lines and, for its day, looked stunning. But the SL we’ve had to put up with thus far was like a big, Germanic block. Not particularly pretty.

Well, this year we’re in for a treat. The new 2017 SL looks to be in the business of undoing some of the damage to the line that the 2013 model did. Mercedes are calling the changes a mid-cycle refresh. The 2017 SL isn’t actually a new version of the SL. There aren’t enough changes to warrant a claim like that. Rather, it’s been touched up a bit to bring it more into line with the rest of the competition.

When you consider that you can easily spend more than £100,000 on one, it’s not surprising that sales of the old SL suffered. After all, a price tag of £100,000 is Maserati and Aston Martin territory. And both those carmakers have cars with a lot more gravitas and sex appeal.

What’s more, Mercedes was having trouble making the SL compete with its own lineup. Thanks to the fantastic GT-S roadster and it’s little brother, the GT, Mercedes already has a nearly perfect sports car offering. Why anybody would choose an SL if they wanted a fast Mercedes was a bit of a mystery.

So Mercedes got to work on the SL. They upgraded the front end so that it now has the same design language as the rest of the cars in their lineup. And now it seems, at least regarding looks, like a viable option for people wanting a big grand tourer.

But, importantly, Mercedes have made several changes to the car under the hood. Transmission noises and vibration have been reduced. But so too has the weight. The car is still by no means light. But Mercedes have managed to lower the weight of the 2017 SL by some 400 lbs. And the difference in the handling around corners is evident. You couldn’t just throw the old SL into corners as if it was a sports car – it would punish you for that. But the new SL feels a lot more capable than it’s predecessor.

What’s more, Mercedes have gone all old-school on us and put in a new mechanical diff. The ride around corners has been changed forever, and the whole experience feels a lot more old-school.

Whether Mercedes can bring the SL back from the dead remains to be seen. After all, how big is the market for expensive touring cars? But it’s clear that the SL is now up to the same standard as the rest of Mercedes’ lineup. And that has to count for something.

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