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NEW MERCEDES-BENZ SL IS COMING! By Brian Foley

ETA for the new Mercedes-Benz SL roadster in Ireland is April.

This is the 60th Anniversary of the SL and whilst the new SL roadster is very much in the spirit of the long line of Mercedes sportscars it comes with all the modern safety and driving aids plus years of development.

The new SL is lighter and stronger, longer and wider with a totally redesigned front grille and slanting eagle-eye headlamps. A long bonnet and a passenger compartment set well back give it an extra sporty look.

Two versions are available with direct injection petrol engines - a 3.5-litre, 302bhp, V6 SL350 version and a 4.7-litre, 429bhp, V8 SL500 twin-turbo version.

Reduced fuel consumption is a big part of the new SL story with the SL 350 consuming 22 percent less fuel despite having a 0-100km/h time of 5.9 seconds – all due in part to a 125kg weigt saving. The SL500 consumes 12 percent less fuel whilst returning a quicker 0-100km/h time of 4.6 seconds.

Both versions have a standard ECO start/stop function and 7-speed automatic transmission. Optional items include a panoramic sunroof that can be retracted into the trunk using an electrohydraulic mechanism that converts it from a roadster into a coupé in a matter of seconds. The transparent roof also switches to light or dark at the push of a button.

Another optional feature is a windshield washing system that applies the washer fluid just ahead of the wiper blade. Using channels integrated into the wiper, it ensures that no water gets splashed onto the windscreen and that visibility is not disrupted while in use.

Final prices for the new SL have yet to be confirmed by the manufacturers. However, their passenger sales manager, Ciaran Allen said that he expects the SL 350 version to be the most popular model in Ireland for which an entry price somewhere below the mid €130s is expected, a figure that would be ten percent and more below that of its predecessor. Road tax of €481 is a substantial drop on the four-figure sum that applied previously.