2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400 brings uncharacteristic frugality to the SL lineup

Typically, when a carmaker unveils a new model it has more power than its predecessors, not less.

Yet that’s exactly what Mercedes-Benz has done with the latest addition to the SL-Class lineup. Rather than top the existing V8 and V12-powered SLs (which would be pretty difficult), it’s decided to emphasize efficiency with a base model.

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SL400 packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 like the one used in the European-market E400 sedan.

That may sound less impressive than the twin-turbocharged V8s used in the SL550 and SL63 AMG, or the twin-turbo V12 in SL65 AMG, but the V6 produces a stout 328 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque.

That’s enough to propel one of the world’s most luxurious two-seat cars form 0 to 62 mph in 5.2 seconds, and on to a top speed of 155 mph.

However, the SL400’s biggest selling points will likely be increased fuel economy and a lower price, which Mercedes will refrain from revealing until closer to the car’s U.S. launch. According to Autoblog, that will be sometime this fall.

Mercedes hasn’t offered a V6 SL in the U.S. since the 1998 SL320, but has sold them continuously in Europe. The SL400 replaces the less-powerful, naturally-aspirated SL350 there, so it’s actually an upgrade for Continental buyers.

The SL400 may not be as fast as its siblings, but for those who can do without ultimate power, it should be a more practical alternative to the existing models with the style and luxury one would expect of Mercedes’ indefatigable drop-top.

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