The SL R129 also maintains the classic mechanical setting with a longitudinal front engine and rear wheel drive. The gearbox was manual 5-speed with the first lower in the attack versions of the range, while it was automatic with 4 ratios on the rest of the range and on request it was also possible to have an electronically controlled limited slip differential.
As for the engines, you could choose between 6, 8 or 12 cylinder units. During its production, the R129 was offered with a wide range of engines, from 2.8 to 6 liters, plus some rare special versions that reached 7.1 and even 7.3 liters.
Aesthetically, the R129 looks much more modern and elegant than the R107 it replaces. The lines are more tense, the front closely resembles that of the large C126 series coupe, but more inclined, more aggressive and even more pleasing to the eye. The belt line is slightly tilted forward compared to the previous roadster and this aspect also gives the car body a marked dynamism.
Overall, both open-top and closed-top, the R129 retains its elegance as few other roadsters know how to do. Even in the hard-top versions (optional starting from 1995) the mix between elegance and sportiness remains almost unchanged. Perfectly successful is the stylistic mix between modernity and retro style, the latter visible for example on the front fenders, where there are small air intakes reminiscent of those used in the fifties of the twentieth century on the 300SL “Seagull wings”.
As for the interiors, the seats with magnesium structure are to be remembered, among other things also equipped with safety belts with integrated winder in the body of the seat. Obviously the dashboard and the driver’s seat are richly decorated with quality materials and superlative finishes
A modest external aesthetic restyling (bumpers, redesigned front fascias and front, white front arrows) and interiors (dashboard, upholstery and fully digital instrumentation) accompanied, in 1995, the debut of a new series of 6-cylinder in-line engines (all with 4 valves per cylinder). New alloy wheels of different design were also adopted and the air intakes on the front fenders were redesigned, while a new Bose stereo system became standard throughout the range. The new range, presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show, included as a basic version the new SL280 (2799 cm³, 193cv), while immediately above it was the SL320 (3199 cm³, 228cv).
Going up, we meet the SL 500, moved by the already known 5-liter V8, updated to optimize consumption and polluting emissions. At the absolute top of the range remained the SL 600. As for the roof covering, with the restyling a rigid roof became available on request that transformed it into a coupe.
Until 1998 there were therefore only a few improvements in detail, including a new automatic transmission over the entire range and the standard self-leveling suspension for the SL500.
In April 1998, the new R129 range was presented at the Turin Motor Show, which benefited for the occasion from a new restyling, visible in the new alloy wheels, in the oval-shaped exhaust terminal, in the new exterior rear-view mirrors and especially in the new V6 and V8 engines with three valves per cylinder. The range thus starts again from the SL 280 and the SL 320, of the same displacement, but with V-engines instead of in-line. Higher up, the new SL 500 with the new V8 M113 of 306 hp and still at the top the SL 600, excluding the versions prepared by the Affalterbach AMG.
With these characteristics, the R129 series starts at the end of his career, which took place in 2001.