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Mercedes-Benz SL600

Mercedes-Benz SL600 001
Mercedes-Benz SL600 002
Mercedes-Benz SL600 003

New Bi-Turbo V12 Makes Nearly 500 Horsepower

DETROIT. -- Mercedes-Benz is announcing the global debut of a bi-turbo V12-powered version of its award-winning new SL roadster at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Destined for the U.S. market later this year as a 2004 model, the new SL600 joins the V8-powered SL500 and SL55 AMG models.

The SL600 features a jet-smooth 5.5-liter V12 that's fitted with two turbochargers - one for each cylinder bank of the 60-degree V12 powerplant. While the SL600 has virtually the same power as the supercharged SL55 AMG, each model has a markedly distinct character and, as a result, a different customer base.

The new SL600 will be the latest in the highly successful SL line, which began in 1954 with the legendary “Gullwing” 300SL. Launched for the 2003 model year, the current Mercedes-Benz SL roadster line boasts breathtaking styling, capped by a retractable hardtop that combines the open-air fun of a convertible with the quiet comfort of a coupe. The SL roadster is also a technological tour de force, with ABC active suspension and ESP stability control, plus the world's first electronic brake system.

Like all Mercedes-Benz cars, the SL600 uses ESP stability control to reduce skidding, especially in poor weather driving. However, because both the SL600 and SL55 AMG shatter the performance envelope, ESP is programmed specifically for each model, with the high power, handling grip, dynamics and braking performance all playing a crucial role its new programming.

New V12 Engine Gives Silky Performance

The S600's new twin-turbocharged V12 engine generates 493 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 590 lbs.-ft. of torque as early as 1,800 rpm. The design goal for the new V12 was to develop the power characteristics of a much larger naturally aspirated engine. These figures are also an astounding 30 percent and 50 percent higher than those of the prior V12 engine. Sophisticated electronic fuel injection and ignition mapping go a long way to help this goal.

The engine's computer control also has extremely fast resolution and can adjust itself in milliseconds in accordance with ambient temperature, barometric pressure, coolant temperature, oil temperature, gear selected, and of course, throttle position. The twin-turbocharging system also employs two intercoolers positioned downstream from the turbos. A smart valvetrain architecture with two intake and one exhaust valve per cylinder enables clean emissions, thanks to heat being concentrated at each exhaust port, which effectively reduces emissions even before the exhaust stream reaches the catalytic converters.

The new V12 is a 60-degree design, and therefore has the best possible inherent balance to compensate for secondary forces. A bedplate design in the engine block uses gray cast iron inserts at the crankshaft bearings. This also allows the use of an oil pan completely decoupled from the crankcase, which, in turn, minimizes any slight combustion resonance or vibration. Combustion noise is also minimized because the dual ignition system keeps pressure gradients within the chambers at low levels. Of course, both turbochargers themselves naturally dampen intake and exhaust noise. The engine itself weighs 568 pounds, some 65 pounds more than the previous V12 due to the addition of turbochargers, intercoolers and a larger alternator. Even so, lightweight components include magnesium valve covers, aluminum upper and lower crankcase sections, Silitec cylinder liners and lightweight camshafts with indexed, pressure-fit steel lobes.

ABC Active Suspension Gives Cat-Like Agility

The SL chassis uses a fully independent, double A-arm front suspension and Mercedes-Benz' patented five-link rear suspension. Most importantly, ABC active suspension is Mercedes' revolutionary system that virtually eliminates body roll in cornering, squat under acceleration and dive during braking.

Each of the three SL models use software programming specific to the model, loosely akin to increasing the spring rates, shock damping and anti-roll bar stiffness of a conventional suspension.

Mercedes-Benz engineers use ABC's interplay of hydraulic, electronic and mechanical parts to reduce body roll by 68 percent (compared to the same vehicle with a conventional suspension), providing the driver with needed feedback through the vehicle chassis. A Sport switch on the center console can alter this, further limiting roll to 95 percent reduced along with tighter shock damping, if the driver prefers sportier handling. The active suspension system uses four hydraulic servos (or pistons), one on top of each steel coil spring, applying additional forces in response to split-second signals from the ABC computers. Put simply, active suspension solves the traditional old tradeoff between ride comfort and handling precision: the SL roadsters exhibit excellent comfort while offering league-leading handling.
The World's First Electronic Brake System

Mercedes-Benz, the company that invented ABS anti-lock brakes, traction control and ESP stability control, also launched the world's first electronic brake system last year on the new SL500, and e-brakes is now also standard equipment on all three SL models. This system provides faster, more sure-footed brake response, especially in emergencies.

The brake pedal works with a computer that tells four fast-acting valves exactly how hard to apply the brakes on each wheel. A backup hydraulic master cylinder comes into play only if there's a serious problem or electrical failure. With split-second accuracy, the system can change brake pressure on each wheel over uneven surfaces and can even increase brake pressure on just the outside wheels when braking in turns, taking advantage of the higher loading during cornering. Even ABS anti-lock and ESP stability control work more efficiently since they are more deeply integrated with the brakes, instead of functioning as parallel systems.

If the driver switches his foot quickly from accelerator to brake pedal, the electronic brake system recognizes the early signs of an emergency situation and reacts automatically. With the help of the high-pressure reservoir, the system raises the pressure in the brake connectors and instantaneously moves the pads onto the brake discs, which can then spring into action with full force as soon as the brake pedal is pressed.

At highway speeds, this pre-loading of the braking system reduces stopping distance by about three percent. In addition, the system automatically senses when the road is wet and imperceptibly applies the brakes just enough to keep the discs dry, so that brake operation remains fast and consistent in the rain.
From Coupe to Roadster in 16 Seconds

At the push of a button, the new SL's retractable hardtop can be fully opened or closed in just 16 seconds. As the power roof retracts, the rear window glass “spoons” the stowed roof panel, providing a surprisingly large cargo area of 8.3 cubic feet. With the top up, the trunk holds 11.2 cubic feet. A hydraulic pump and 11 computer-controlled hydraulic cylinders power the system, and top operation is controlled by a distinctive switch on the center console.

Source - Mercedes-Benz