Written by By Luke Brennan, Special to CNN
The car company has cast the silver SL nameplate into the warm sedate American alpine light for the first time since the company’s 1935 debut in Utah. The new model arrived earlier this month and at a time when the brand’s 80-year association with the snow-capped range has never been stronger.
Back home, company officials are at pains to point out that the combination of sophistication and utility — heralded in his own humble Fiat 500 — is as relevant today as it was 80 years ago. The tone is set with the first phase of the launch, a Lincoln Navigator product called the SLC — an exercise in versatility and utility that wraps a turbo four in its arms and dumps it in the snow.
The three stars of the exterior and interiors of the new SL
In the case of the new vehicle, luxury is tough. Designed and engineered in Texas, the SUV teases the Continentals of the world with a list of luxury options (on offer from the factory: leather seats and calfskin steering wheel) and in the comfort and convenience department, a device to automatically defrost the front windshield in the presence of a change of seasons.
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But the most striking feature of the new SL is the power. Its glorious gullwing doors open to reveal a rear deck of well over 4.0 liters of raw power. With 8.5 liters at its disposal, power works in response to the driver’s desire — you can choose from four performance-focused versions.
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In any event, this is not a new SL — rather, it’s a re-re-re-re-re-imagined one that’s meant to merge the luxury of the original 1928 model with a range of new technologies. The design language of the world’s oldest Mercedes is quite striking — the twin-tailed horizontal Airglide rear end, for example, is something of a contemporary Grand Theft Auto parody.
The world’s oldest Mercedes, has been re-re-re-re-re-imagined.
The new SL is a car with soul — at its best, of course, it’s a practical luxury machine. At the other end of the spectrum, it promises to be just as happy hitting the road in winter or snow — a prospect that’s remarkable given its sheer luxury-oriented story.
“It’s a great test for us, and we’re really excited to see how people react to it,” said Ulrich Moegl, General Manager of Mercedes-Benz Cars USA. “We know it’s a classic brand — we’re taking a moment to celebrate that and to bring in a new feel to the product.”
(Click through the gallery below for the full 360 degree panorama).
If you’ve ever dreamed of a fleet of shiny, expensive, chunky Fiats, the 2016 Mercedes SL may be your ticket to that dream-time.
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The interior of the Mercedes SL turns up the luxury factor. Credit: Courtesy Mercedes-Benz