TUSCALOOSA, AL – Though the S-Class sedan continues to steam along as Mercedes-Benz’s flagship, the company’s most prominent badge is the SL, according to Motor Trend and www.popularmechanics.com

For the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, outside of the U.S., there will have a choice of the standard bodywork or a more aggressive AMG upgrade, and the model range will extend from the six-cylinder SL280 and SL350 (powered by a new, high-revving 316-horsepower V-6), the V-8 SL550 (called a 500 elsewhere), and the V-12-powered SL600.

In the U.S., only the AMG-look bodywork will be offered, and at first only in SL550 and SL600 models beginning in mid-May. The 518-horsepower SL63 AMG and SL65 AMG, will arrive later this year.

In structural and dimensional senses, the new SL is virtually identical to the outgoing model.

The new rack mechanically alters the steering ratio in reaction to vehicle speed and steering-wheel angle in an effort to better control a steering characteristic called “yaw rate,” a function of vehicle speed measured against something called “yaw gain,” which is essentially a measure of the steering’s reaction to lateral forces.

Inside, the 2009 SL features a three-spoke, leather-and-wood steering wheel, and new graphics on the main instruments, with electric stepper motors that send needles around the dials and back to rest when you start the ignition.

Airscarf, a technology pioneered on the SLK roadster in 2004, has been improved and added to the SL as an option. It uses an air intake, a heating element, and an electric fan in each head restraint to keep the driver and passenger warm when cruising in the cold with the top down. It has three temperature ranges to suit weather conditions.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials