The Mercedes Sport-Leicht (SL) has carved itself an enviable niche, despite being neither light nor particularly sporty. Since the launch of the original in 1957, Mercedes has sold more than 633,000 SLs.

The R230 model of the SL that Mercedes-Benz introduced in 2001 has become the best-selling SL in history, and the U.S. accounts for more than half of its total worldwide sales. There was a time when the SL existed outside Mercedes' normal model program and such sales success might lead to years of continued production. After all, the R107 version continued almost unchanged from 1971-'89.

But in today's fad-crazed world, change is an obligation, not an option, so the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL arrives with a significant face-lift. The most obvious alterations are aesthetic, but there are also subtle revisions to the interior and the mechanical package. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550 and 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL600 reach U.S. showrooms in mid-May.

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First Look: 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550 and SL600

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