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Mercedes SL facelift (2008): first official pictures

Published: 23 January 2008

With inspiration apparently coming from the stunning 1954 Gullwing, this is Mercedes' facelifted SL. With a new entry-level engine, Merc's clever Airscarf system, and a different front end, this second and final facelift should see the SL through until the next decade.

That new nose is the most obvious change. The quad headlamps are replaced by twin CLS-style items, while the front grille is not only wider with a horizontal bar, but now sits proud of the bonnet too. The whole front end tapers to a point, creating a focal point, while the rear taillights are now smoked, a feature that had previously been reserved for AMG models of the SL.

Inspiration for further changes has been drawn from the original W198 Gullwing that was built from 1954 to 1957. The bonnet has a new powerdome (nee twin raised humps) and the revised air outlets behind the front wheelarches now feature vertical gills as opposed to the current horizontal strakes.

Are the changes drastic inside?

Not really. There’s the three-spoke steering wheel that first featured on the new C-class, a new Comand entertainment system and the Airscarf system from the SLK. The system blows hot air from the headrests to keep your neck warm when the clever folding metal roof is tucked away in the boot. Options will include Merc’s new Direct-Steer system already seen on the facelifted SLK and GLK concept, and the company’s ‘Inteligent Light System’.

What about the engines?

The big news for the UK is a new engine for the SL350, which lifts power from 268bhp to 311bhp. There’s a new SL280 but it won’t make it to the UK – the same is true of the new CLS280. The SL500, SL600 and SL65AMG continue as before, but the monstrously torquey, and much-loved SL55 AMG model looks set to be dropped. Expect it to be replaced by an SL63 AMG that CAR has been told will be this year’s Grand Prix safety car: we had hoped it might have been the SL Black but a Mercedes insider vehemently denied this.

CAR will have the full details of Merc's facelifted SL on 31 January, and be reporting live from Geneva in early March when the car has its motor show debut.

By Ged Maxwell

Contributor, steady of helm, firm of view

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