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2017 Mercedes SL gets more beauty, power, and equipment


The first gestation of the R231-generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class was appreciably better than the excellent R230 it replaced, it just didn't look nearly as good. Answering for one of its rare design sins with a facelift for the 2017 model year, Mercedes succeeds in restoring the skin-deep glory the R231 SL deserved from the beginning. They didn't stop at the skin, either, giving buyers plenty of additional technical reasons to make the upgrade.

The new design establishes its new beauty with the grille and headlights. The grille has essentially been flipped upside down - it is now wider at the bottom than the top. It is flanked by sleeker headlights pulled out to the edges, and now full-LED lights are standard. The front fascia below gets much more pronounced, especially on the AMG versions with their larger intakes and chrome-trimmed A-wing motif across the horizontal span. Brilliant Blue and Designo Selenite Grey Magno join the color palette.

The SL400 becomes the SL450, its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 juiced up from 329 horsepower to 362 hp, and 354 pound-feet of torque to 369 lb-ft. Both it and the SL550 shed their seven-speed automatics for the new 9G-Tronic automatic.

Inside, new designs for the gauge cluster look back at the driver, ambient lighting options have expanded to include polar blue and polar white, and the center console storage ambient lighting throw a brand logo on the two USB ports fitted inside. The roof can be opened at up to 25 miles per hour now, and the trunk separator automatically gets out of the way when you put the top down - no more having to do that yourself beforehand.

Turning the page on performance, non-AMG models come offer Mercedes' curve-tilting function with Active Body Control. It counters cornering forces by tilting the body up to 2.65 degrees into a turn; choosing it removes the Eco function from the five Drive Select modes, replacing it with Curve mode. The AMG SL63 and SL65 models come with a mechanical rear differential lock standard - formerly part of a $9,000 upgrade package, an updated seven-speed transmission, and faster shifting via aluminum shift paddles.

We'll get looks at the AMG SL63 and SL65 at the LA Auto Show, the refreshed range hits dealerships in late spring next year. Mercedes has a lot to tell you in the press release below, so dig in.

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