The SL is Mercedes-Benz sports car, and for 2006 all versions get a new run-flat tire option. Models ordered with the AMG Sport Package ride on new 18-inch wheels. Meanwhile, Keyless Go, a heated steering wheel, and corner-illuminating headlamps are added to the standard equipment list for the SL600 model.
Perhaps no Mercedes-Benz model has a prouder history than the SL. The German automaker's sports car launched in the mid-1950s in the form of the now-historic and highly-collectable 300SL, which was available as a two-door roadster or the famous hardtop with Gullwing doors. Mercedes launched the new and fifth generation of its venerable two-seater in 2003. Rather than making customers decide between coupe or roadster (convertible), all SLs now come with a retractable hardtop, so the SL can be two cars in one: top up for cold weather; top down for enjoying the sunshine. The model lineup includes the SL500, SL600, SL55 AMG, and SL65 AMG.
The SL500 draws its energy from a 302-hp, 5.0L V-8 engine, which sends its power to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The SL600 is powered by a 493-hp, twin-turbocharged 5.5L V-8 that powers the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox. All SLs feature electronic stability controls and the full array of Mercedes active and passive safety technology.
The SL55 AMG features a hand-built, supercharged 5.5L V-8 that generates 493 hp and more than 500 lb.-ft. of torque, an amount that relatively few cars can match. This model also comes with other performance enhancements from Mercedes' in-house tuning shop. The ultimate version of the Mercedes sports car is the SL65 AMG, which is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 6.0L V-12 that produces 604 hp and 738 lb.-ft. of torque. This version needs barely four seconds to sprint from a standing start to 60 mph, and then stops quickly thanks to huge 15.4-inch front and 14.2-inch rear brakes.
The SL-Class competes in the Midsize Premium Sporty segment, a small but prestigious and very competitive category of cars with cutting-edge design and aggressive performance capabilities.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the sales leader for calendar-year 2005 was the Chevrolet Corvette (32,489 units), followed by the Porsche 911 (10,107), with the SL-Class (10,080) right behind. Other players in the segment include the Cadillac XLR, Dodge Viper, Lexus SC Series, and the Maserati coupe/Spyder.