The Mercedes-Benz R 230

The most noticeable new feature of the next SL generation (R 230, 2001 to 2011) was the Vario roof. For the first time, this made it possible to have an open-top vehicle and a coupé in one – the transformation was completed within 16 seconds. The body design combined tradition and progress by way of striking details. The highlighted air openings in the front wings cited a typical feature of the 300 SL from the 1950s, for example. The narrow, wing-type profiles on these side air openings – which experts referred to as “fins” – were also reminiscent of the W 198. With a totally new safety concept, the SL of the R 230 model series clearly surpassed the standards which had applied up to this time. The list is long: apart from the body’s structural stability in any conceivable type of accident, other safety features included standard-specification electronic dynamic handling control systems such as Brake Assist (BAS), acceleration skid control (ASR) and the Electronic Stability Program ESP®. The Active Body Control suspension (ABC) was available for the first time on an SL. Further occupant protection items included two-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, head-thorax airbags in the doors, integral seats, high-performance emergency tensioning retractors, belt force limiters and the sensor-controlled rollbar, which also went into action when the Vario roof was closed.