• Entry-level Mercedes-Benz SL400 to debut later this year
  • Features 328-hp turbocharged V6 rather than V8 or V12
  • Pricing expected to start around $85,000 with shipping

The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is about to become a little more affordable. The upscale convertible will soon add a V6-powered entry-level model to its lineup, giving shoppers a new option in addition to the V8- and V12-powered SL-Class models currently on sale.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the new model will be known as the SL400. Largely identical to other SL-Class models on the outside, the SL400's biggest difference will be under the hood, where it will feature a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 instead of a V8 or V12 like other SL Class models. The new engine will be the first 6-cylinder in a U.S.-bound SL-Class since the 1997 model year.

While official specs have not yet been announced, we have high hopes for the new engine. European E-Class models that already use the new powertrain achieve 328 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque -- impressive figures for a V6. In fact, Mercedes says the SL400 will reach 60 miles per hour from a standing start in a sprightly 5.2 seconds, placing it just behind the V8-powered SL550's 4.6-second 0-to-60 time.

Speaking of the SL550, that model -- currently the entry-level SL-Class -- uses a twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 that makes 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. So, the new SL400 will be down by around 100 horsepower and 170 lb-ft to the SL550, though we suspect that many shoppers who are simply interested in an SL won't mind the power drop.

We also suspect they won't mind the more affordable base price. While today's SL550 starts around $107,500 with shipping, an entry-level, V6-powered model would likely drop the SL's base price to around $85,000.

Shoppers interested in an SL400 should ready their wallets, as Mercedes says the entry-level roadster will make its debut sometime this fall.

What it means to you: The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is adding a more affordable new model for shoppers who don't need V8 grunt with their new roadster.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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