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The magic Mercedes-Benz SL550

Mercedes-Benz redesigns its SL550 for the 2013 model year, giving it a new engine and a few technologies that start with the word magic.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550. Mercedes-Benz

Arthur C. Clarke wrote, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," which is what Mercedes-Benz must be thinking with some of the new features in its 2013 SL550.

Its Magic Sky Control consists of a panel in its retractable hard top that goes from dark to transparent at the touch of a button. That does sound very advanced. Not quite as magical is Magic Vision Control, a system that dispenses wiper fluid from openings on the wiper blade, rather than spraying haphazardly over the windshield from two jets on the hood.

Although not called out as magical by Mercedes-Benz, the new SL550 includes other very advanced features. It will come with an automatic parallel parking system and a sensor under the rear that opens the trunk when someone waves a foot across it. Both of these technologies were recently introduced by Ford, stealing some of Mercedes-Benz's thunder.

FrontBass is a unique audio system, in which the woofers are integrated with the car. This system uses spaces in the body as resonance chambers for the woofers, which should give them a lot more depth than standard door-panel-mounted woofers.

The new SL550 will also be a connected car, with access to Google Local Search, Yelp, and Facebook through Mercedes-Benz's MBrace telematics service. The head unit will also have a Web browser, although it will be deactivated when the car is in motion.

The car is also the first Mercedes-Benz model using an all-aluminum body, which keeps the weight down below 4,000 pounds. Under the hood is Mercedes-Benz's new direct-injection 4.6-liter V-8 with twin turbochargers that produce 429 horsepower.

The 2013 SL550 goes on sale next spring. Pricing has not been released but expect it to come in over $100,000, as the current model starts at $103,650.