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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Coupe or convertible?

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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Hello, pa!

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

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Derek Fung/CNET Australia
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