Mercedes SL (2012): aluminium build saves 8% weight

Published: 29 November 2011

Mercedes' new 2012 SL will weigh a solid 140kg less than today's SL roadster - a significant saving of some 8%.

This crash diet has been enabled by the adoption of aluminium for the new SL. The learnings from the SLS gullwing are now trickling down to the higher-volume SL, which will be revealed in December 2011.

Why the new 2012 Mercedes SL is aluminium

The lion's share of the weight saving is made in the bodyshell, which is a stout 110kg lighter than the current steel shell. That's not bad considering today's SL already has aluminium bonnets and doors.

It's the first time a series production Mercedes has been made entirely out of aluminium. Some of the rear panels are crafted from magnesium, and the rollover structure in the A-pillar is steel - but 89% of the bodyshell is aluminium. The whole shell weighs 254kg.

'The effect is rather as if a heavyweight-class passenger had got out of the car and taken his heavy flight luggage, too,' said Thomas Rudlaff, responsible for the aluminium bodyshell. 'The result is perceptible and measurable. Less weight means more dynamism and less consumption. In other words: the motoring enjoyment increases and the environmental burden sinks.'

What else do we know about the new Merc SL?

Not a lot yet, but Mercedes has issued these prototype testing photographs. The basic outline of the SL hasn't changed a jot: this remains a full-size premium roadster.

The SL has dominated its segment for most of the years since its launch back in 1954. It'll remain a two-seater convertible with a folding hard-top.

Gizmo alert: Magic Vision Control

One innovation Merc is touting on the 2012 SL is its new screenwash system. Dubbed Magic Vision Control, occupants won't notice any water being squirted at the screen at all, claims Daimler.

We've seen similar systems before, but Mercedes claims you'll see no water whatsoever on the screen. A heated duct delivers water directly to the wiper blade, using laser-cut injectors that sound nearly as precise as a piezo squirter in a direct fuel injection system.

They mete out water so precisely at just the time and place required that the driver notices no water at all - just a clean screen, says Merc.

It's even clever enough only to inject water on a downward sweep when the roof is down, so you'll never get a light drizzle on your bonce when the roof's down and you're posing.

>> Stay tuned for real photos of the 2012 Mercedes SL in December 2011

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet