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    Mercedes-Benz SL [R231] (2016 - 2021)

    The independent definitive Mercedes SL (2016-2021) video review
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      SL OF A SPORTS CAR (some text hidden)

      By Jonathan Crouch

      Introductionword count: 80

      Luxury sports car buyers traditionally sold on the charms on a Mercedes SL will certainly be sold on the much improved version of the MK6 model which sold between 2016 and 2021. They'll like the lithe proportions and deft detailing, the powerful engines and the luxurious technology. More sophistication when it comes to transmission and drive dynamics certainly meant that in this enhanced form, this 'R231'-series design had more to offer. It's a special car. As every SL should be.

      Modelsword count: 5

      2dr Cabriolet (4.0, 6.0 petrol]

      Historyword count: 510

      There aren't many truly iconic cars in the modern motor industry - but this is one of them: the Mercedes SL. This improved version of the MK6 'R231'-series model which had originally launched in 2012 appeared in 2016 and was cleverer and better looking; more than ever before, a very sophisticated kind of sports car. Significant development of this model line is something that SL buyers are well used to. Over six generations spanning as many decades, everything changed about this car - yet in many ways, nothing was very different. For Three-Pointed Star buyers, it still remained the ultimate expression of sporting opulence and the SL model line remains perhaps the definitive face of this legendary luxury brand. Yet one that over more than sixty five years has changed from supercar to sports roadster and from there through boulevard cruiser to autobahn bruiser. A design, in other words, that through its lifetime, has managed at different times and in different forms to define everything a sportscar should be. When first the SL appeared in 1952 to spearhead the brand's peacetime return to motorsport, the post-war German economic miracle had hardly begun and many Mercedes factories still lay in ruins. Undaunted, the company's head of testing Rudolph Uhlenhaut decreed that the marque would use this car to win the Le Mans 24 hour race - which it duly did, the perfect platform for the brand's subsequent successful return to the Grand Prix grid. And that might have been the end of the SL story had it not been for an entrepreneurial Austrian-born US businessman called Max Hoffman. Recognising the sales potential for a car like the SL, he persuaded the Mercedes board to reinvent it as a different kind of sporting machine, more of a grand touring GT, still fast, but not as frantic. So were laid the foundations for this 'R231'-series model. The Gullwing W198 version of the Fifties, the Pagoda W113 model of the Sixties and the R107 series made famous by the Ewings on TV in 'Dallas' in the Seventies. Hi-tech arrived in 1989 with an R129 generation that pioneered pop-up rollbars and integral seatbelts. And more was served up in 2001 with an R230 series design whose folding metal vario roof gave SL buyers both coupe and roadster rolled into one. This replacement 'R231'-series car arrived in 2012 and it properly lives up to its name. 'SL', after all, stands for 'Sport Leicht' and this car, like that one, was made almost entirely from lightweight aluminium. By 2015 though, it was clear that beyond the clever fundamentals, further embellishment was needed. Customers wanted a sleeker look and more dynamic driving aids, plus by now, the engineers had developed a smoother 9-speed auto gearbox to go with the extra media connectivity and more advanced safety features that could be carried over from mainstream models. Hence the need for this significantly revised MK6 SL, launched in the Spring of 2016, the car we're looking at here. It was ultimately replaced by a Mercedes-AMG 'R232'-series model in late 2021.

      What You Getword count: 293

      If you know anything at all about this car, you'd recognise one without the badge work, admiring, perhaps, the way that the grille on this 'R231'-series model was positioned to visually lengthen the bonnet. Or the shoulder lines that rise from the headlamps and stretch like tensed muscles along the bodywork into the tail lights. All of this is as it was in the original version of this 'R231' sixth generation SL. What changed with this revised post-2016 model was the front end, revised to be far more elegant and imposing. Mercedes' legendary 300SL Panamerica racing car provided the inspiration for the facelifted car's more steeply-raked 'diamond'-style radiator grille with its chrome-plated louvre and jewel-like chromed pins. At the wheel, few changes were made over the original version of this sixth generation SL - but then, few were needed. As with other Mercedes models, influences were drawn from the world of aviation, with gorgeous jet-turbine-style air vents dominating a wing-shaped dash with a centre console modelled on the flight deck of an aircraft. Unlike the close-fitting cockpit you get in an SLC or an AMG GT Mercedes sports car from this period, the cabin offers plenty of space to spread out, thanks to the general increase in size of the MK6 design. Dating the dash slightly is the relatively small 7-inch size of the 'COMMAND Online' colour infotainment screen, along with the fact that the cabin lacks the mouse-style controller you'll find in more recently designed Mercedes models, functionality instead delivered by an old-style swivelling rotary controller alongside the gearstick. Still, at least the 'COMMAND' set-up was standard across the range, offering some classy vehicle parameter displays and fully integrated with the 'Apple CarPlay' system, which will be welcome news for iPhone users.

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