Mercedes-Benz SL gets second facelift (2008)

Published: 27 July 2007

Is that a new Mercedes SL?

Well yes and no. Yes because it’s a facelift, but no because it isn’t a new car. The fifth-generation SL was revised less than a year ago, but Mercedes tends to give the big roadster a long lifecycle so this second facelift should keep the SL going until an all-new car appears in 2011. This refresh will allow the SL to face off against ever-stiffening convertible competition from Porsche's 911 and Aston Martin's V8 Vantage, and forthcoming cars from Audi and Bentley. The SL's interior will be spruced up with some of the innovations from the new C-class cabin; the SL's cockpit has always felt pretty special, but the company is continuing its quest to build solid, hewn-from-granite interiors. Mercedes hopes the look will convince customers that quality is back.

But the 'new' SL looks the same from the back

Indeed it does, but there are subtle tweaks to freshen up the lights, whilst the body-coloured rubbing strips on the rear bumper have been removed, for a cleaner, more uncluttered look. Also new at the back will be lower exhaust emissions, as Mercedes brings direct injection to the SL. First shown on the 3.5-litre V6 CLS last year, the technology – dubbed CGI – will also be available for the first time on the 5.5-litre V8. Will the SL get diesel power for the first time? It would be the perfect home for the 3.0-litre V6 putting out 235bhp and 398lb ft; BMW is doing a 635d twin-turbo in the facelifted 6-series, after all. The much-loved SL55 AMG will take a bow to be replaced by the SL63 AMG. The 6.2-litre V8 might not have as much torque as the supercharged car, but at least the traction control won’t be called into action as often.

Ah, that definitely looks new

Well of course, this is a facelift after all. The grille and front bumper are slightly more angular, tapering to a point to match the look on the facelifted E-class and new C-class. The three bar grille is also replaced by one solitary chrome-effect bar. However, the most obvious change is the adoption of the CLS-esque boomerang headlamps. The refresh should keep the SL going until 2011. Prices are only expected to rise a little so expect a SL350 CGI to come in just shy of £65k.

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy