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STYLING | 8 out of 10
grille "evokes most of its SL forebears
Car and Driver
aggressive new front styling
revolutionary departure from...the previous generation SL
Kelley Blue Book
AMG version won't go unnoticed by the impoverished who can only afford Porsche Boxsters
Road & Track
With a styling revamp in the 2009 model year, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is no longer the chic trophy-wife piece it once was. What? You didn't know? "Mercedes admits that the restyling was necessary," Inside Line says, "because some of its customers complained of the 2003-'08 car being ‘too girly,' perceiving it as a ‘chick' car." Edmunds explains, "Although the design was elegant, it didn't say ‘drive me fast.'"
TheCarConnection's editors aren't convinced the SL is anything but rakish, but agree with other reviewers that the 2009 styling updates keep the Benz SL looking fresh in 2010. Mercedes refashions the SL's nose and flanks to lend it some testosterone, and it works. "A few effective styling changes," Car and Driver says, include a "new single-bar grille that evokes most of its SL forebears, flanked by L-shaped headlamps that evoke none of them." Kelley Blue Book remarks the new "deeply sculpted side scoops and a protruding nose mark a revolutionary departure from the conservative styling found on the previous generation SL." The rear end is also tidied, and in all, the changes to the Benz SL "successfully convey a more sporting intent," Edmunds points out. The look also is now more unified with the crisp new E-Class and C-Class range-not to mention the 2010 SLS AMG gullwing. And, Kelley Blue Book observes, the SL still "looks as good with the power-operated hardtop covering the cockpit as it does when retracted."
AMG versions wear deeper front air dams, a more pronounced grille, a hood with twin power bulges, and side and rear-end skirts for a distinct look. "That you're in the AMG version won't go unnoticed by the impoverished who can only afford Porsche Boxsters," says Road & Track.
The Benz SL's interior saw less change last year; for 2010 a wood-and-leather steering wheel is fitted to the elegant and sporty interior, along with new instruments. "Although the exterior received a significant overall refresh for 2009," Edmunds notes, "the subdued and classy interior carries over mostly unchanged." Car and Driver points out a "sporty new three-spoke steering wheel" and a "mildly revised instrument cluster." While the cabin is "awash in leather and power features," Kelley Blue Book says, "some of the controls - the new COMAND system, for example - are complicated and take some effort to master." Inside Line also criticizes how styling affects the function of the SL's controls: "we found the electronic LCD information readouts virtually impossible to see, top up or down," they report. "So when manually shifting, we never really knew what gear we were in or, for that matter, what suspension setting."
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class roadsters neatly reverse the usual change of life-from subdued to "dude."