Sporty and light(er)

It's appropriate that Mercedes-Benz chose to launch its new SL convertible during an unseasonably warm and sunny Detroit winter.

The new car's squarer, edgier shape is the first in the company's history to be made (almost) entirely of lightweight aluminium.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Bigger, lighter

The shift to aluminium, and other weight-saving measures, means that the new model is between 110kg and 140kg lighter than the old model.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Coupe or convertible?

As with the previous generation, the new SL features a folding metal roof that stows itself in the boot.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Kick to open or close

Like the new Ford Escape/Kuga, to pop open the boot lid, all you need to do is kick the air underneath the rear bumper. Unlike the Ford, though, you can kick that area again to close the boot.

Like other coupe-convertibles, boot space is cut down dramatically when you're enjoying wind-in-the-hair motoring.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

FrontBass

The Mercedes' engineers utilised the resonance cavities in the passenger foot wells to boost the sound system's bass reproduction, even with the roof down.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Clear or dark

Like the smaller SLK, SL buyers can specify a panoramic glass roof that can switch between a sun-blocking dark tint to completely see-through glass in seconds.

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Fun and frugal

No hybrid or diesel versions will initially be available, but, thanks to automatic engine stop/start and the aforementioned weight-saving program, the 225kW 3.5-litre V6 drinks just 6.8L/100km in official testing.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Hello, pa!

Alongside the new SL was the car that sits atop the family tree: the 1952 300SL race car.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Evolution

This 1952 300SL eventually evolved into the 1954 "gullwing" SL road car that's still regularly cited as one of the most beautiful and influential cars ever.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:

Those were the days

There's no chance that any future SL will feature the 300SL's leg-singeing side exhausts.

Derek Fung travelled to the Detroit Motor Show as a guest of Ford.

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Photo by: Derek Fung/CNET Australia / Caption by:
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