Mercedes-Benz SL 500 Design


Masculine, muscular athlete’s physique

  • Classic SL proportions
  • Organically interpreted central star
  • Striking sidelights and daytime running lamps
  • Forwards thrust even at a standstill
  • Elegant, racy tail end

Mercedes-Benz SL 500 Design

The design of every Mercedes-Benz SL has an obligation to a great legend, and yet it is always very clearly looking to the future. The designers have unmistakably showcased the youngest generation of the style-defining roadster on the basis of tradition, but also with new perspectives and visions. This has resulted in a formal identity and the high overall aesthetic quality.

In the interplay between innovation and tradition we have created a stylish, sporty and elegant luxury sports car with the classic, well-balanced hallmark SL proportions: the long bonnet is followed by a compact, set-back passenger compartment. A broad, muscular, racy-looking tail end completes the picture.

Design boss Professor Gorden Wagener: “The athletic, sports star’s physique with its masculine, muscular character says a great deal about the new SL and confidently emphasises its status as the high-performance heart of our brand. At the same time, discerning athletic standards are met by powerfully sculpted surfaces formed by just a few lines and beautifully crafted details. The traditional design elements from our rich history are more than visual quotations. They tell of the courage and the pioneering spirit which have shaped our brand, and reflect these properties in a contemporary way – with enthusiasm and passion. Alongside top technical performance and innovations, it is also this which gives the new SL an unmistakable character.”

Design Mercedes-Benz SL 500

The front signals a self-confident presence

Visually, the new SL is clearly marked out as a prestigious member of the current Mercedes-Benz sports car family. At first glance this is evident from the very upright classic sports car radiator grille which has featured on all the Mercedes-Benz vehicles with a sporty character – right from the initial generation of the SL.

The central star in the radiator grille points the way to the future: it is a contemporary reinterpretation of the famous trademark, which now runs into the centrepiece with organically flowing contours.

What’s more, on the new roadster the designers have waived the classic separation of the bumper and the radiator grille. The lower edge of the grille now dips into the bumper, supporting the pronounced V-shape and resulting in more formal presence. In addition to this, the steeply positioned radiator grille lengthens the bonnet in visual terms. Two air outlet grilles, each with two chromed fins, have their roots in Mercedes-Benz’s traditional, dynamic design repertoire. A succinctly sculptured edge – developing from the upright radiator grille – draws across the long bonnet in a taut arch and flows organically into the A-pillar.

Dynamically positioned at an angle, headlamps located far on the outside flank the distinctive front and the broad air intake, giving the new roadster its own inimitable look. It appears masculine and it does also radiate a certain restrained aggressiveness.

The standard-specification ILS headlamps are characterised by very high-quality tubes for the low and main beam which have been styled with great attention to detail, plus a chrome bracket surrounding the main headlamp and the flared arrangement of the indicator lamps and sidelights. All the further functions feature LED technology – such as the distinctively curved sidelights and the horizontal band of the daytime running lamps in the outer sections of the bumper.

The silhouette displays muscles with character

A minimal amount of artistically styled lines define the athletic yet smooth surfaces of the flanks. The shoulderline rises from the headlamps and stretches like a tensed muscle over the entire length of the vehicle and into the tail lights. Side grilles with fins in the front wings stylishly cite the classic SL legend and form the starting point for a feature line. This structures the proportions and lends the vehicle a visual forwards thrust even at a standstill. It tapers out in the tail light as a discreet line.

Free-standing exterior mirrors located on the beltline not only support the modern character of the side view; thanks to this position they also improve vision of the road.

Various light-alloy wheels available in 18-inch version, and the exquisitely bordered wheel arches are designed for a maximum size of 19 inches at the front and 20 inches (only in the case of AMG) at the rear.

Design Mercedes-Benz SL 500 2012

Muscular tail end

A small number of sweeping lines shape the broad, clearly defined tail end. Elegantly flowing and at the same time racy and muscular, it forms the roadster’s distinguished finishing flourish that is so full of character. Thanks to the boot lid with its steel interior and plastic panelling, it has been possible to stow the aerials out of sight inside the vehicle so that they do not interrupt the flowing lines in the rear area. This is also the case with the roll-over protection, which lies hidden from view in the body and is only activated in case of danger.

Tail lights with LED High Performance technology highlight the width of the tail end. They taper inwards to a point and have a discreet kink in the contour. The rear fog lamp is located centrally between two trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes. A horizontal swage line in the lower area of the bumper provides added emphasis of the broad effect.

The colour range for the exterior encompasses twelve different paints. These include the BRIGHT paint diamond white and the special colour cerussite grey metallic SHAPE – the first matt paint in the standard-specification paint range for a Mercedes-Benz model series.

Mercedes-Benz SL 500 Interior

Interior and appointments

Luxurious comfort and sporty precision

  • Stylish ambience and high-quality materials
  • Ergonomically optimised seats
  • The very essence of everyday practicality

The interior of the new SL impresses with its generous amount of space, high-quality materials, high sense of perceived value and lovingly crafted details displaying tangible and visible precision.

Compared with its predecessor, the new generation of the SL is much longer
(+ 50 mm to 4612 mm) and wider (+ 57 mm to 1877 mm), providing more room for more comfort in the interior, too. Shoulder room (+ 37 mm) and elbow room (+ 28 mm) have been increased, exceeding the dimensions normally found in this vehicle class. Clear lines create a formally coherent internal space within this comfortable interior. Perfectly in tune with the roadster’s character, it combines the unpretentious atmosphere of a high-performance sports car with the comfortable, stylish ambience you come to expect in a luxurious touring car.

The wrap-around effect has class

In conjunction with the beltlines on the doors and the parcel shelf, the upper section of the dashboard creates a formal unity and – with the exception of the black interior – it is always styled in a contrasting colour. Generously used wood trim extends from the centre console across the dashboard into the doors, creating a pleasant wrap-around effect. Three types of wood along with two different aluminium trim finishes are available (high-gloss brown walnut, satin-finish light brown poplar, high-gloss black ash), plus two differently treated longitudinal-grain aluminium trim parts (light or dark). The links between the dashboard, centre console and door trim panels have been styled so that they are continuous and they support the wrap-around effect. Minimal gap dimensions please the eye and represent the high precision with which
the SL is manufactured.

High-quality instruments add emotionally appealing flourishes

In the area of the dashboard, four circular ventilation outlets provide some striking eye-catching touches. Set in metal, these air vents are reminiscent of jet engines and are a contemporary, emotively interpreted way of paying homage to the history of Mercedes-Benz sports cars.

Inside two tubes the sporty instrument cluster boasts classic round dials with three-dimensional graduated rings, back-lit dials in the centre of the tachograph and rev counter, plus high-quality needles. In the centre between the two round dials, a colour display provides information from the on-board computer and indicates vehicle functions. The system is operated via a three-spoke sports steering wheel with shift paddles and twelve function buttons. The steering wheel featuring a flattened bottom section has an ergonomic grip area and galvanised spokes, and is covered with nappa leather – in the airbag section, too.

A large COMAND colour display in the centre of the vehicle takes care of the numerous display functions for the entertainment, communication and navigation facilities. A particularly eye-catching feature on the tunnel of the centre console is a new DIRECT SELECT shift lever. Small and fine, it is a true visual highlight. Like the central rotary knob for operating the COMAND system, it is optimally positioned from an ergonomic point of view. Located in front of these controls is the closed compartment for the two cup holders.

Spotlight on the stylish ambience

Making dynamism visible is what it’s all about where the ambient lighting in the SL is concerned. The fibre-optic cables with three colour options to choose from stretch between the beltline and the door centre panel in one tier over virtually the entire length of the door, behind the trim on the dashboard and in the front panelling.

Seats with a noble, sporty character

The new SL’s fully electric seats with a memory function meet discerning and wide-ranging standards regarding seating comfort, ergonomics, safety and sportiness. The ergonomically optimised seats themselves are more slender than in the predecessor and emphasise the noble, sporty character. This is underlined in visual terms by sophisticated stitched seams and by a layout which varies depending on the choice of leather. Alongside excellent lateral support, the seats also offer high levels of comfort.

The superstructure of the seat cushion and backrest is formed by a weight-optimised welded construction of steel and sheet metal panel parts. This structure also makes a significant contribution towards transverse support for the sidewall in the event of a lateral collision. In addition, a thorax-sidebag is installed in the backrest. A newly developed combination of a sine spring core principle with rubberised matting and a foam layer as damping ensures support and comfort.

Both the driver and the passenger can adjust their seats precisely according to their requirements and body measurements. Even in the standard equipment there are extensive electrical adjustment options available for doing so, enabling fore-and-aft and height adjustment to be made just as easily as the seat cushion angle, cushion depth and backrest angle adjustment. The crash-responsive head restraints are also adjustable for height. The range of equipment also includes 4-way lumbar support adjustment – this feature is housed in the centre section of the backrest cover. The occupants can operate it via the central control panel and the head unit. Using the memory buttons, the current seat position can be stored, and on the driver’s side this also applies to the positions of the steering wheel and exterior mirror.

A very attractive solution has been found for convenient access to the rear compartment for easy loading – in both visual and functional terms. A button on the shoulder of the backrest operates the backrest lock electrically and enables the seats to be moved forwards and backwards in order to create sufficient room to manoeuvre.

Also part of the standard specification is a seat occupancy sensor with automatic child seat recognition on the front-passenger side – for child seats with a transponder specially approved for Mercedes-Benz.

For enhancing comfort even further, in the case of the leather appointments the seats are covered with sun-reflecting leather. This specially coated leather reflects the heat of the sun and, in particular where the appointments colours are dark, it reduces the extent to which the surface heats up. In combination with the optional active ventilation the thermal seat comfort is tangibly improved.

The following seat variants can be selected as an optional extra:

  • Luxury heated seats with active seat ventilation: it ensures a pleasant seating climate.
  • Active multicontour seat package: three air chambers in the lumbar area can vary the contour of the seats in order to prevent fatigue. Elongated air chambers in both of the side cushions on the backrest ensure optimum lateral support
  • Dynamic multicontour seat: the dynamic multicontour seat is an enhanced version of the multicontour seat. It automatically adjusts the lateral structure of the backrest in accordance with the current driving situation. In order to do this it varies the air pressure in the seat bolsters on the backrest electropneumatically, depending on the steering angle, lateral acceleration and speed

Health and comfort-conscious climate

The control panel for the standard-specification luxury automatic climate control THERMOTRONIC featuring separate temperature adjustment for the driver and passenger has been redesigned and revised. Mercedes-Benz has placed particular emphasis on new technologies for saving energy. They include a window demisting sensor integrated in the base of the interior mirror. It measures the window temperature and interior humidity and transmits these data to the climate electronics. They can use them to determine whether the windscreen has misted up. If this is not the case, in A/C operation it can continuously adjust the compressor in the background if no dehumidification is necessary. In other words: thanks to the sensor, the compressor can be operated as required, saving drive energy. The A/C function can remain permanently active. A further advantage is that, as the air conditioning only dehumidifies and cools as much air as necessary, dry eyes are prevented – a tangible gain in terms of comfort.

The air conditioning is also linked to the ECO start/stop function and can therefore also regulate the climate during the stop phases.

SL drivers can also enjoy an open-air experience when the weather is cool, with the innovative neck-level heating system AIRSCARF. Warm air flows through a nozzle at the front of the head restraints, and the system directs it around the head and neck area of the occupants.

Room for luggage and lots of equipment

Suitability for everyday use is a key word which is traditionally taken extremely seriously at Mercedes-Benz – even in the case of vehicles designed to be very sporty. This is why the occupants in the new SL will find plenty of stowage facilities for larger and smaller items alike. In addition to the glove compartment, the centre console offers three stowage compartments within easy reach:

  • One of these is at the front beneath the air-conditioning control panel, which can be optionally fitted with two cup holders or with an ashtray and one cup holder
  • A large stowage compartment beneath the armrest can be used for the safe storage of a telephone, iPod® or similar, for example
  • A centrally located rear box with a retractable luggage cover completes the range. A bottle holder is fitted here as part of the standard specification, whilst a fire extinguisher is available as an optional extra.

A lockable rear box behind the driver’s seat creates additional stowage space. Its catch is automatically closed when the vehicle is locked.

In the lower section of the door trim, a long, open door pocket offers further, easily accessible stowage space. As no bass loudspeakers have to be fitted in the door thanks to the Frontbass system, Mercedes-Benz makes sensible use of the space gained here by adding an extra stowage compartment, which can be used for an umbrella, for instance.

The designers have also thought the details through: smaller but useful items can be fixed in place by a net on the centre tunnel of the passenger’s footwell.

The design of the boot is largely determined by the vario-roof, which has to be housed in the upper part of the boot when the roof is open. In total the new SL offers luggage capacity of up to 504 litres – 364 litres with the roof stowed. There is always room for stowing luggage or two golf bags without any problems at all, thanks to the optimised boot design.

A luggage cover which can be adjusted lengthwise with a handle prevents pieces of luggage from colliding with roof elements in the boot when opening the roof. Only when the cover is adjusted to the rear can the vario-roof be opened. Anyone wanting to use the entire boot capacity when the roof is closed can adjust the cover to the front or remove it completely.

At the press of a button, the roof elements stowed in the boot can be tilted upwards by about 25 degrees to make loading and unloading easier – as was the case in the predecessor (Easy-Pack system).

The compressor and the TIREFIT filler bottle are housed in a stowage compartment in front of the recess which can be accessed by lifting up the boot floor.

HANDS-FREE ACCESS – ‘kick’ to open

One of the new products and features from Mercedes-Benz is a system known as HANDS-FREE ACCESS, which is included in the KEYLESS-GO package. A first for the new SL, it allows drivers to operate the boot lid without using their hands. This work is taken care of by a hydraulic drive system, for which the control signals are given by the SL owner without touching anything, but by making as though to kick the area of the rear bumper with their foot; doing so activates this fully automatic comfort-increasing equipment. Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer to offer a system which not only opens but also closes the boot lid automatically.

With the innovative convenience function HANDS-FREE ACCESS there is no longer any need for drivers to have to get annoyed by having to put their purchases and other objects down on the – often dirty – ground when out shopping and when they literally have their hands full, in order to reach for the handle. Should an unintentional ‘kick’ result in the boot lid opening or closing without the driver wanting this to happen, a second kick will correct it. When this occurs, the automatic system interrupts the procedure and reverses the effect of the signal given in error by actuating the boot lid against the original direction of movement – in the case of unintended opening, the second kick closes the boot lid again.

An appropriate safety program facilitates unhindered use of the HANDS-FREE ACCESS system. An acoustic signal provides the information that an opening or closing procedure has been initiated, and an automatic reversing function stops the boot lid as soon as the system recognises that there is an obstacle blocking the boot lid.

For the HANDS-FREE ACCESS system to be included, the vehicle must be fitted with KEYLESS-GO – this allows non-contact access to the vehicle In addition to this the correct KEYLESS-GO vehicle key has to be in the vicinity of the vehicle, so in order to open the doors it can, for example, stay in the driver’s coat pocket or handbag. In order to activate the HANDS-FREE ACCESS system for the boot lid, the KEYLESS-GO key must not be further than 1.5 metres away from the rear end of the vehicle.

Optional equipment

AMG Sports package (SL 500)

The AMG Sports package available as an option renders the SL 500 even more
dynamic. It comprises:


  • Front and rear skirts as well as side skirts in an AMG design
  • 19-inch AMG 8.5 J x 19 light-alloy wheels with 255/35-sized tyres
    at the front, and 9.5 x 19 wheels with 285/30 tyres at the rear


  • Perforated rear brake discs; all brake callipers are more eye-catching with the “Mercedes-Benz” lettering
  • Larger braking system from the V8
  • Special S shift identification


  • Seats with a special vertical piping design, covered with perforated black leather
  • Steering wheel, covered with black leather in the area of grip, with silver-coloured shift paddles
  • Contrasting topstitching on the seats, steering wheel, dashboard, door trim and centre console
  • Trim parts in black haematite
  • AMG floor mats made of black velour with the AMG logo
  • Door trim with perforated leather
  • Instruments with a start/finish chequered flag design