RAC Cars News


Mercedes SL to debut new platform

By raccars Published

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It's not expected to go on sale until 2019, but Mercedes-Benz is already talking about its next SL roadster which, along with the next SLK, will use an ultra modern new platform. The new roadster will also be sleeker and smarter than ever before, picking up more cues from the junior SLK.

As part of Mercedes' plan to make cleaner, more efficient cars, both to own and to build, even performance models, it came up with its MFA and MRA modular platforms, giving front and rear wheel drive layouts. This has helped to simplify the manufacturing process, so that cars such as the GLA, CLA and A-Class, can be built on a common production line - cheaper and quicker than earlier, bespoke construction techniques.

A third new architecture has now been designed as the basis for the new SLK and SL models. The existing SL has its own unique platform but within a few years, will be riding upon the MSA or modular sports car architecture, currently under development in Germany. The MSA will allow models to use common suspension components and other elements, such as the front bulkhead, and all to come out of the same Bremen factory. Nonetheless, the system is scalable to make it suitable for a variety of different lengths, widths, wheelbases and heights. This opens up the possibility of a wider range of model variations, such as roll back soft top roofs for convertibles, alongside a more sophisticated folding hard top arrangement.

Furthermore, Mercedes could also add a four seater SL without the need for the usual complicated and expensive development process. Apart from the standard petrol and diesel combustion engines and their associated nine speed gearboxes, the MSA is being designed to accept alternative fuel powertrains, such as the firm's plug in hybrid technology as seen in the new C-Class. It can also accommodate the company's 4MATIC four wheel drive system, which is becoming more desirabe in sports cars.

Along with streamlining the manufacturing process, the new platform will be lighter than previous efforts. This always contributes to lower running costs, thanks to better fuel economy and, as a result, lower CO2 emissions.

The SL's future has been a little uncertain, with the demise of Jaguar's rival XK convertible and the possibility of a new convertible S-Class, but the announcement of the new architecture shows that Mercedes is determined to retain this iconic slice of its line up.

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