2003 Mercedes SL-500 Hardtop Convertible
Mercedes-Benz has launched a totally new SL to replace the previous model. A technological tour-de-force, the 2003 SL is improved in every way over the 2002 SL, which enjoyed record sales last year in spite of its 12-year-old design.
The new Mercedes SL is a sinuous, sensuous roadster with dramatic styling. Press a button and, 16 seconds later, its retractable power steel roof changes it from the open-air fun of a convertible to the quiet comfort of a luxury coupe. The SL is packed with every bit of automotive technology that Mercedes has perfected over the past dozen years, and that's a lot of technology. It does everything well, assuming you like tThe Mercedes SL500 is one of the most beautiful cars in the world. From the jutting chin of its front bumper to the four-eyed headlamps to the traditional front fender air intakes to the shoulders over the rear tires to the five-spoke alloy wheels, the SL500 is not only the new style leader for Mercedes-Benz, but a new style leader for the entire segment. Mercedes says the new SL simultaneously pays homage to its legendary great grandfathers while offering a new interpretation of excitement. Now almost 50 years in production, it is an automotive icon. It dates back to the 1954-63 300SL Gullwing" Coupe. The most recent generation of SLs ran from 1989 to 2002. The air inlets in the front fenders were inspired by the original 300SL. The narrow, wing-like chrome gills are reminiscent of the first SL Roadsters and are echoed in the hood. The four-eye headlamp pattern has the two lamps on each side melting into one another. They represent the latest in lighting technology with a circular Fresnel lens that concentrates the light emitted by the standard xenon headlamps. From the side, the rising beltline contributes to the car's rake. At the rear, the Mercedes triangular taillights use 27 LED bulbs designed to illuminate more quickly.
The Mercedes SL has a completely new interior design, different from the CL coupes and very different from the Mercedes sedans. Two large round instrument pods carry the primary instruments, using smart, colorful graphics shared by no other Mercedes-Benz. The instrument panel and center console are well organized and feature the Mercedes COMAND screen that operates the sound system, navigation system, and telephone, with redundant controls on the new steering wheel. Below center, just ahead of the shifter, are the ventilation controls, similar in style to the twin round controls used in the M-Class SUVs. Voice activation for the phone, radio and ventilation system is optional.
The leather-covered seats that come with the car are superbly comfortable for grand touring, but if you need more and want more, Mercedes offers both dynamic multi-contour seats that give a continuous massage, or seats with active seat ventilation. The standard seats are larger and more sumptuous than the previous models because there is simply more room in the cockpit, with more room to adjust the seat for tall drivers and more room to rake the seat back. That's because the new automatic folding steel top design doesn't take up as much room as the old fabric convertible top. Behind the bucket seats are twin lockable storage compartments in place of the ridiculously small jump seats in the old car. The seats will adjust to anyone save a midget or an NBA starter, and the cabin feels much more open than the previous model did.
With the steel top up, the SL turns into a coupe as quiet as a church on Wednesday, allowing the occupants to relax and cover ground while the new 10-speaker sound system (with separate 100-watt amplified subwoofer) bathes the interior in sound. With the top stowed, a 16-second process, the sound system compensates automatically for the increased road noise. Mercedes worked long and hard to ensure that with the top down and the side windows down, you can still hold a normal conversation with your traveling partner even at very high road speeds.
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