Mercedes Benz India Limited today launched the SL 350 convertible and the GL 500 SUV in India. The SL 350 is priced at Rs. 98.5 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, while the GL 500 is priced at Rs. 80.9 lakhs ex- showroom Delhi. Both the vehicles are completely built imports.
The SL 350 has the sleek lines that have been passed on generation after generation from the original gullwing SL 300. The SL 350 is powered by a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine that develop 315 bhp of power and 360 Nm of torque, mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission (7G-Tronic). The car also features a sports package that includes paddle shifts for faster changes manually and sporty leather upholstery.
The SL 350 is a hard-top convertible, with the roof folding in a neat symphony in about 20 seconds into the boot. The speed sensitive power steering has a unique feature which would appeal to drivers who like to get a lot more hands on feel. The “Direct Steering” increases the angle at which the wheel tilts when turning, thereby allowing for faster cornering and fewer turns of the wheel for the driver, giving a very sporty feel to the car.
The car is essentially a two-seater, but is kitted out with plenty of luxury equipment, like the 10-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system, DVD changer and central COMMAND system, that controls all the in-car entertainment functions. Those looking for a bit of wind-in-the-hair experience with the top down in winter, have the Airscarf system on board to keep warm. This is a unique heater-blower system incorporated into the headrests of the seat which keeps your neck and ears warm in cold climates. Other features like the intelligent cornering lighting, help in better visibility at night, by lighting up the turns.
The Mercedes Benz GL 500 is a full-blown luxury SUV, that offers excellent comfort along with a powerful go-anywhere engine. The GL 500 is an upgrade of the earlier GL 350 that was sold in India for the past two years and is powered by a 5.4 litre V6 petrol engine that develops 388 bhp of power and 530 Nm of torque. This is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission and a 4Matic, full-time four-wheel drive system. The GL 500 also features an adjustable air suspension (Airmatic), that can raise or lower the vehicle height depending on the terrain.
Mercedes has ensured, that though the GL 500 is a tough SUV, it does not need any effort to operate on the part of the driver. For instance, folding and unfolding of the third row of seats is electric. Adjustment of all seat – electric. Closing and opening of the tailgate – again electric. Other comforts include DVD screens for the rear seats, reverse camera, parktronic, and dual zone air-conditioning.
Speaking to DWS Auto, Peter Honegg, managing director and CEO, Mercedes Benz India said: “We see good demand for SUVs in India, and after the G55 AMG, we have launched the GL 500. We also see more demand for diesel cars, and will bring in more diesel engines.”
Honegg said he expects to sell about few 100 units of the GL 500, with its predecessor selling about 250 units a year. He also expects the SL 350 to sell about 100-odd cars a year, but sees huge potential in the luxury car market. “While the passenger car market is growing at about 13-15 percent a year in India, the luxury market is about double that growth rate, and therefore is quite exciting,” Honegg said.
At present, Mercedes assembles the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class in India, while all other products are fully imported. The local content in the assembled models is between 25-40 percent. The company expects to hike prices within four to six weeks, due to the impact of the changes in import duties and inflationary pressures. At present Mercedes pays about 10 percent duty for two lines (C-Class and E-Class) and 30 percent duty on the S-Class line under the new budget tariffs. Other vehicles continue to attract 110 percent import duty.
In the next two-to-three years, Mercedes may also consider making the A and B Class of cars in India, but first needs to see how feasible they would be. At present, Mercedes Benz India has an assembly capacity of 10,000 cars a year in two shifts.