• Mercedes recently revealed its all-new 2013 SL-Class, which will arrive in dealerships this spring.
  • Will soon be joined by AMG variants.
  • Features new technology that decreases weight and boosts fuel economy

After revealing a series of official photos over the last few weeks, Mercedes finally rolled out its all-new 2013 SL-Class at this year's North American International Auto show in Detroit. Featuring new styling inside and out, the redesigned SL-Class offers revised engines and a series of technologically advanced new features designed to help differentiate the brand's flagship convertible in an increasingly crowded market segment.

The SL's most striking update is to its exterior, which was completely overhauled The convertible's front end features more striking, aggressive lines, while its side profile offers a more chiseled, muscular look. New tail lights and a new rear bumper help the sixth-generation SL stand out from its predecessor, which debuted as a 2003 model.

Inside, the 2013 SL-Class also offers a host of changes, from air vents inspired by the SLS AMG supercar to a more vertical center stack with revised controls. But perhaps the most exciting new feature is overhead, where the SL-Class includes Mercedes' innovative Magic Sky Control system. Designed to allow occupants an open-air experience even in poor weather conditions, the system can change the convertible roof's transparency, going from clear to shaded with the push of a button.

Under the hood, the SL550 features a new 4.6-liter V8, which is considerably smaller than the outgoing model's 5.5-liter powerplant. But thanks to twin turbocharging and direct injection, the new engine produces a whopping 429 horsepower - nearly 50 more than its predecessor - while simultaneously recording 10 percent better fuel economy. According to Mercedes, the new engine helps propel the SL550 to 60 miles per hour from a standing start in just 4.5 seconds.

Of course, the 2013 SL550 is also loaded with an impressive amount of new technology. New features include a standard start/stop function that shuts off the engine at idle to save fuel, all-aluminum body casting that reduces weight, repositioned speakers placed in the convertible's front footwells to deliver a less distorted sound, and windshield washer fluid that deploys directly from the wipers.

Although Mercedes hasn't announced pricing for the 2013 SL550, we expect the convertible will start at nearly $105,000 - a slight bump over its predecessor, and considerably more than recently redesigned rivals like the BMW 6 Series and Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet. The new model will begin arriving in dealerships this spring, and we expect high-performance AMG variants, including an SL63 and possibly even an SL65, to make their debuts soon after.

What it means to you: The SL faces tough competition from BMW and Porsche, but remains at the top of its game.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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