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Mercedes-Benz defines open-top luxury with updated SL roadster

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LOS ANGELES -- Sitting low and sleek on Mercedes-Benz's stage at the Los Angeles auto show, the 2017 SL550 hides serious power under its long hood. Boasting the same 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8 as the bigger and heavier S-class, the SL550 hits 60mph in 4.3 seconds. Complementing that power, Mercedes-Benz's latest adaptive suspension technology promotes comfort and handling.

The biggest improvement for stress-free driving in the new SL-class is the addition of Mercedes-Benz driver assistance features.

As with the S-class, the SL roadster gets an adaptive cruise-control system capable of bringing the car to a full stop, and controlling brake and acceleration in stop-and-go traffic. Complementing that capability, the Traffic Jam Assistant can take over the steering in low-speed driving situations where lane lines are well-defined.

As in previous years, the SL coddles passengers with its Air Scarf technology, blowing warm air from the car's headrests around occupant's necks. That comes in handy for open-top driving in chillier weather.

The retractable hard top folds into the trunk, taking up some space. However, a cargo protector automatically slides over the open space, making it clear what can and cannot fit.

2017 Mercedes-Benz SL550

The open-top Mercedes-Benz SL-class benefits from a raft of advanced technologies originally launched in the S-class flagship sedan.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Increasing comfort, Mercedes-Benz offers its Active Body Control technology as part of the adaptive suspension. This system actually tilts the car laterally, against inertial forces, when taking a turn, keeping passengers from sliding sideways in the seats. It's as if the car carries its own banked turns.

The SL-class' adaptive suspension includes five settings, ranging between comfort and sport.

The 4.6-liter V-8, making 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, carries over from the previous model year, but if you that seems like too much engine, you an opt for a 3-liter V-6 in the SL450. That engine produces 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, with a drive selector on the console instead of using a stalk on the steering wheel, as in other, less sport Mercedes-Benz models.

As for cabin tech, an older generation controller on the console indicates that Mercedes-Benz has not equipped the SL-class with its latest, greatest navigation and electronics features. However, this system will support Apple CarPlay, giving iPhone users a much more capable interface and many connected features.

2017 Mercedes-Benz SL550

As one of Mercedes-Benz sport-oriented cars, the SL550 gets a single bar grille.

Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The 2017 Mercedes SL-Class arrives at US dealerships in the spring of next year. Pricing and market-availability details will be revealed closer to the vehicle's launch.

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2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Part Number: CNET2017 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

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