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SL-Class (R231) 2013 on: Discussion on the SL550

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Old 06-15-2019, 04:08 PM
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Newbie Purchase Advice

Shopping for a nice CPO SL400. Will be trading my C7 Corvette. Never owned a Mercedes but have owned over 20 BMWs and Audis. Any advice or words of wisdom on what to look for in a used SL? Thanks very much.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:59 PM
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If you're coming from a Corvette you might want an SL63, because I'd have a hard time giving up the power and the V8 sound.
Make sure you find one with ABC suspension, the premium package, and, make sure it has a few other options.
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Old 06-16-2019, 12:44 AM
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Perhaps, like me, you have grown out of the need for blinding acceleration and monster torque. I have owned 427 Corvettes, 12 cylinder BMW’s and a Porsche 930 Turbo, but I am smitten with the V6 in my SL450. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend the SL450 and that you try to step up to that model, offered from 2017 on. You will also get the fabulous nine speed transmission. As previously noted, TRY to find one with the Active Body Control (ABC) suspension option, as the ride & handling are spectacular. That said, SL400 & 450 models with ABC are quite scarce. Best of luck to you!

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Old 06-16-2019, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
Any advice or words of wisdom on what to look for in a used SL?
Drive every SL (R231) you can find; I've never experienced ABC (standard on an SL63) but the members that have it have convinced me it makes it a different car altogether. I also prefer the twin-turbo six to the more powerful eight, but YMMV....
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:23 AM
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Thanks, folks. I am leaning towards the V6 as my boy racer days are over. Looking for a nice touring car for road trips with my spouse of almost 50 years. Not familiar with the ABC but will do some research. Plan to drive a couple cars this week.
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:33 AM
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Take You're Time

Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
Thanks, folks. I am leaning towards the V6 as my boy racer days are over. Looking for a nice touring car for road trips with my spouse of almost 50 years. Not familiar with the ABC but will do some research. Plan to drive a couple cars this week.
Take you're time and search out a car that has ABC. It will take a bit of research but after your purchase, there will be little chance of Buyers Remorse. It's the single most important option to consider when buying an SL.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:07 AM
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Everyone is right having to do with definitely getting ABC. I donít have it and sorely miss it. (Previous model had it standard, new model does not, unbeknownst to me when ordering new model).
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Old 06-16-2019, 12:35 PM
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Face it, 95% of the 231's out there lack ABC, so for those shopping the 'used' 231 market it is quite unlikely you will even locate one with that option, plus whatever else you want, i.e. low mileage, pristine condition, and a particular color scheme!. The reality therefore is that you're most likely going to be buying a non-ABC 231 which is just fine as long as you also choose 18-inch wheels and non-run flat tires for your 231.

The 18-inch option signifcantly enhances a non-ABC 231's ride comfort, de comfort, which seems to be the only concern ever mentioned by non-ABC owners, (that concerns mainly comes from those owners with 19-inch or larger wheels, and the 'stock' MB 'run flat' tires). While you may have to spend some money to make the switch to a smaller diameter wheel, keep in mind that at least the amount you spend is going to be less than what the ABC option would cost on a new 231.

FWIW, here is my previous experience with ABC: I formerly owned a 2003 SL 500 which had ABC as 'standard' and I still own a CL55 AMG with ABC, so I have experienced both the benefits of ABC as well as some serious ABC reliability issues over a significant period of time. I recognize that ABC's hydraulic suspension improves both ride comfort and handling. and It also helps with body roll, pitch, nose dive, etc. However, it's not at all clear that all the ABC reliability issues were resolved for the 231. Questions still remain on that!

While some here will say that ABC on the 231's is more reliable than on the 230, there isn't really sufficient proof of that since so few 231's with ABC are actually out there. Clearly there is 'insufficient data' regarding ABC reliability on the 231 verses what we know to be true about ABC on the 230).

IMO, just how reliable ABC on the 231 really is remains to be seen. However, we know for a fact it was not so reliable on the 230 SL Class, and also very expensive to repair! The 'reliability history' with SL Class ABC is likely the reason ABC was made 'optional' on the 231, and likely still the reason why MB Dealers remain 'hesitant' to recommend ABC or order portions of 231 Dealer Inventory with that option! One would have expected Dealer opinions about ABC to have changed by 2019, just due to increased ABC demand occurring since 2013. If indeed the newer (231) ABC has proven more reliable than the older 'standard ABC' offered on the 230, then I believe the;MB Dealer's perception of ABC's value surely would have changed by now!

Unfortunately, in talking with my local MB Dealership, it doesn't seem that Dealer opinions and/or recommendations regarding ABC have changed at all. As a result, 'newer' 231's with the ABC option continue to be 'very rare''
just as in 2013. So just WHY haven't the Dealer's perception of ABC changed by now? We can each draw our own conclusions as to why, but I suspect ABC reliability is still a concern to MB Dealers Nationwide, even now in 2019!..

With specific regard to the non-ABC 'ride comfort' issue, I can honestly say I have no issues with 'ride comfort' whatsoever thanks to the wheel and tire options mentioned above. In fact, I think the ride is very nice and quite comfortable as long as I keep the suspension setting in 'Comfort Mode', (i.e. the 'standard' setting for the suspension). Furthermore, I find 'comfort' in knowing that I will never have to incur another very expensive ABC repair on the 231 like I experienced with the 230.

My strong recommendation is therefore to go with smaller diameter (18-inch) wheels and non-run flat tires. That recommendation is for those who already own a 231 as well as those looking to buy one without the ABC option. Once you've made the switch to 18-inch I know you;ll enjoy 'your 231's ride' even more!

Below is a link to an MB WHEEL website that shows all available genuine MB 18-inch wheel options for the 231.. While any 18" non-run flat Tires will enhance ride comfort over the 231's stock run flats, some will offer a bit more comfort than others. (Speak to a Consultant at Tire Rack for more information on that). Both 'Max Performance Summer' Tires and 'Ultra High Performance All Season' Tires are available in the 18-inch size recommended for 231's. The latter 'All Season' type of tire will generally have a sidewall slightly less stiff than that of a 'Max Performance' Summer Tire. . (I have added a 2nd link below will take you to the Tire Rack Website).

There is no need to feel 'handicapped' over the 'ride comfort' simply because your 231 lacks the ABC option....All you really need is the right wheel and tire options for enhanced 231 ride comfort!

Oh and one last thing since the OP has requested recommendations, I strongly recommend the more exhilarating SK550 V8 over either the SL 400 or 450 (V6). options. IMO, a 231 SL Class deserves 'nothing less' than the mid-range 231 V8 engine! It's the engine the original 231 was; designed for, and I know for a fact I wouldn't be happy with any less horsepower or torque, and would surely miss that lovely V8 'growl' if I didn't have it! I understand why some people will say a V6 is 'more than adequate' for their needs, but there is a huge difference between adequate and exhilarating performance. Keep in mind the (2) reasons why MB introduced a V6 engine to it's SL Class: (1) To provide a lower price entry point, and (2) Better gas mileage. However, in my opinion, an SL Class must offer 'exhilarating performance' above all else, which is why I much prefer the SL 550 over either of the 231's V6 engine options!

http://www.alloywheelsdirect.net/mer.../all/price_asc


https://www.tirerack.com/content/tir.../en/tires.html






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Last edited by bob55; 06-17-2019 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 06-16-2019, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
Thanks, folks. I am leaning towards the V6 as my boy racer days are over. Looking for a nice touring car for road trips with my spouse of almost 50 years. Not familiar with the ABC but will do some research. Plan to drive a couple cars this week.
Not realizing just how much of a difference ABC made, coming out of a 2004 SL500 that I had for 12 years, which had ABC as standard equipment, I bought a near perfect, CPO, 2013 SL550, without ABC, with only 11,000 miles. The car was a bargain, was loaded, had 18Ē wheels and I put new Michelin A/S 3+ non-run flat tires on it. After being SO disappointed in the ride quality, I sold the car and ordered a new SL450 with ABC. Some folks are not nearly as sensitive or critical of ride quality as I am, but I cannot put into words how dramatically better the ABC equipped car rides and handles. I am also in love with the V6, which has way more than sufficient power and torque and the lighter engine only serves to enhance the ride quality. If you can find an acceptable SL450 with ABC, grab it.
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Old 06-16-2019, 05:20 PM
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Coming out of a Corvette I don't think ride will be an issue unless it is quite stiff. I conducted several searches on different websites and cannot locate any cars with ABC in my color choices, silver or white exterior, no black interior. Did ABC only become an option in 2017? Even though I am used to 460 HP, I previously had a Z4 with 300 HP and it was fine for my driving style. I know I will pay a premium for a CPO car from a Mercedes dealer. Thanks for the continued advice and observations.
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Old 06-16-2019, 06:44 PM
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ABC was made an option beginning MY 2013.
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:51 PM
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Wow! I'm not finding any used ones with this option. I'll keep searching as I would like to drive one to see the difference in the handling and ride compared to a similar car without ABC. Is the suspension on the SL400/450 different from the SL550? Is the current biturbo V6 and new engine compared to the previous V6? I note that the current V6 has more HP than the previous one.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:04 PM
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None yet - looking
Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
Wow! I'm not finding any used ones with this option. I'll keep searching as I would like to drive one to see the difference in the handling and ride compared to a similar car without ABC. Is the suspension on the SL400/450 different from the SL550? Is the current biturbo V6 and new engine compared to the previous V6? I note that the current V6 has more HP than the previous one.
I am in the same boat. Been looking for 3 months for a CPO with ABC that isn't one of the colors I don't like. Ready to fly halfway across the country and drive back, but nothing.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:14 PM
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I'm not going to debate the difference between a car with and one without ABC since I have never owned a MB but I am familiar with active or air suspensions in a couple other cars I have owned in the past. They can and do prove to be very expensive to maintain/repair as the car ages. If I find one for sale that has ABC I do want to drive it so I can compare it to one without. I talked to a salesperson at my local MB dealer and he said they order very few cars with ABC for stock and said the vast majority of the cars they sell do not have ABC. We do have excellent roads in MD and since I am coming out of a Corvette I think I will be fine with one without ABC.
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Old 06-16-2019, 08:18 PM
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None yet - looking
Randall;

I too am talking myself into not requiring ABC. But what's got me still thinking about holding out for it is everyone who has it raves about it. But, I really don't want the summer to burn away while I wait!

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Old 06-16-2019, 08:26 PM
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I've just started my search and since I am looking at used SLs I do worry about large repair bills as the car ages especially if it is out of warranty. I'm headed to a dealer tomorrow to drive a couple different cars but neither have ABC. I have never owned or driven an SL so it will be a new experience. I've owned a lot of different roadsters over the years, BMWs, Audis, and several British sports cars. I am expecting the SL to be a new experience. I can't imagine any SL riding worse than a Corvette without Magnetic Ride which is GMs active suspension. My Corvette does not have magride.
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Old 06-17-2019, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
I've just started my search and since I am looking at used SLs I do worry about large repair bills as the car ages especially if it is out of warranty. I'm headed to a dealer tomorrow to drive a couple different cars but neither have ABC. I have never owned or driven an SL so it will be a new experience. I've owned a lot of different roadsters over the years, BMWs, Audis, and several British sports cars. I am expecting the SL to be a new experience. I can't imagine any SL riding worse than a Corvette without Magnetic Ride which is GMs active suspension. My Corvette does not have magride.

You could go drive this one to get a feel of what ABC is all about (not that I know). Even though it's a 550 and older than you want it could inform you whether ABC is something you'll end up regretting not having....

https://www.cars.com/vehicledetail/d...6008/overview/
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Old 06-17-2019, 11:35 AM
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Good find. I'm in Catonsville. Just drove an '15 SL400 without ABC. Ride was fine. Will stop in Frederick on my way home to Hagerstown.
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Old 06-17-2019, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
Good find. I'm in Catonsville. Just drove an '15 SL400 without ABC. Ride was fine. Will stop in Frederick on my way home.

I feel the same way about my SL400 and I have 19" wheels and run-flat tires, but I have no idea what I'm missing. I would assume that if ABC blows your mind you're then facing a more complicated decision, i.e. R230's, AMG R231's, or buying new, which was not in my "budget".

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Old 06-17-2019, 12:34 PM
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No way I'm spending $100k on a car. Appraisal for my Corvette was fair. SL400 is a color combo I like, white/red. Nicely equipped and CPO.
Need to talk it over with my better half.

I am interested in purchasing the 2 year extension of the CPO warranty. Can anyone recommend a dealer that will negotiate the price? I got a price from the selling dealer of the SL I am considering but wanted to get a couple more prices. I am assuming I can purchase it later but it's likely the price will probably be higher as the car will be older with more miles. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Last edited by rmorin49; 06-17-2019 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 06-17-2019, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rmorin49 View Post
No way I'm spending $100k on a car. Appraisal for my Corvette was fair. SL400 is a color combo I like, white/red. Nicely equipped and CPO.
Need to talk it over with my better half.

I am interested in purchasing the 2 year extension of the CPO warranty. Can anyone recommend a dealer that will negotiate the price? I got a price from the selling dealer of the SL I am considering but wanted to get a couple more prices. I am assuming I can purchase it later but it's likely the price will probably be higher as the car will be older with more miles. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
I agree. I paid $42,500, no CPO, factory warranty till 9/30/2019.
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bob55 View Post
Face it, 95% of the 231's out there lack ABC, so for those shopping the 'used' 231 market it is quite unlikely you will even locate one with that option, plus whatever else you want, i.e. low mileage, pristine condition, and a particular color scheme!. The reality therefore is that you're most likely going to be buying a non-ABC 231 which is just fine as long as you also choose 18-inch wheels and non-run flat tires for your 231.

The 18-inch option signifcantly enhances a non-ABC 231's ride comfort, de comfort, which seems to be the only concern ever mentioned by non-ABC owners, (that concerns mainly comes from those owners with 19-inch or larger wheels, and the 'stock' MB 'run flat' tires). While you may have to spend some money to make the switch to a smaller diameter wheel, keep in mind that at least the amount you spend is going to be less than what the ABC option would cost on a new 231.

FWIW, here is my previous experience with ABC: I formerly owned a 2003 SL 500 which had ABC as 'standard' and I still own a CL55 AMG with ABC, so I have experienced both the benefits of ABC as well as some serious ABC reliability issues over a significant period of time. I recognize that ABC's hydraulic suspension improves both ride comfort and handling. and It also helps with body roll, pitch, nose dive, etc. However, it's not at all clear that all the ABC reliability issues were resolved for the 231. Questions still remain on that!

While some here will say that ABC on the 231's is more reliable than on the 230, there isn't really sufficient proof of that since so few 231's with ABC are actually out there. Clearly there is 'insufficient data' regarding ABC reliability on the 231 verses what we know to be true about ABC on the 230).

IMO, just how reliable ABC on the 231 really is remains to be seen. However, we know for a fact it was not so reliable on the 230 SL Class, and also very expensive to repair! The 'reliability history' with SL Class ABC is likely the reason ABC was made 'optional' on the 231, and likely still the reason why MB Dealers remain 'hesitant' to recommend ABC or order portions of 231 Dealer Inventory with that option! One would have expected Dealer opinions about ABC to have changed by 2019, just due to increased ABC demand occurring since 2013. If indeed the newer (231) ABC has proven more reliable than the older 'standard ABC' offered on the 230, then I believe the;MB Dealer's perception of ABC's value surely would have changed by now!

Unfortunately, in talking with my local MB Dealership, it doesn't seem that Dealer opinions and/or recommendations regarding ABC have changed at all. As a result, 'newer' 231's with the ABC option continue to be 'very rare''
just as in 2013. So just WHY haven't the Dealer's perception of ABC changed by now? We can each draw our own conclusions as to why, but I suspect ABC reliability is still a concern to MB Dealers Nationwide, even now in 2019!..

With specific regard to the non-ABC 'ride comfort' issue, I can honestly say I have no issues with 'ride comfort' whatsoever thanks to the wheel and tire options mentioned above. In fact, I think the ride is very nice and quite comfortable as long as I keep the suspension setting in 'Comfort Mode', (i.e. the 'standard' setting for the suspension). Furthermore, I find 'comfort' in knowing that I will never have to incur another very expensive ABC repair on the 231 like I experienced with the 230.

My strong recommendation is therefore to go with smaller diameter (18-inch) wheels and non-run flat tires. That recommendation is for those who already own a 231 as well as those looking to buy one without the ABC option. Once you've made the switch to 18-inch I know you;ll enjoy 'your 231's ride' even more!

Below is a link to an MB WHEEL website that shows all available genuine MB 18-inch wheel options for the 231.. While any 18" non-run flat Tires will enhance ride comfort over the 231's stock run flats, some will offer a bit more comfort than others. (Speak to a Consultant at Tire Rack for more information on that). Both 'Max Performance Summer' Tires and 'Ultra High Performance All Season' Tires are available in the 18-inch size recommended for 231's. The latter 'All Season' type of tire will generally have a sidewall slightly less stiff than that of a 'Max Performance' Summer Tire. . (I have added a 2nd link below will take you to the Tire Rack Website).

There is no need to feel 'handicapped' over the 'ride comfort' simply because your 231 lacks the ABC option....All you really need is the right wheel and tire options for enhanced 231 ride comfort!

Oh and one last thing since the OP has requested recommendations, I strongly recommend the more exhilarating SK550 V8 over either the SL 400 or 450 (V6). options. IMO, a 231 SL Class deserves 'nothing less' than the mid-range 231 V8 engine! It's the engine the original 231 was; designed for, and I know for a fact I wouldn't be happy with any less horsepower or torque, and would surely miss that lovely V8 'growl' if I didn't have it! I understand why some people will say a V6 is 'more than adequate' for their needs, but there is a huge difference between adequate and exhilarating performance. Keep in mind the (2) reasons why MB introduced a V6 engine to it's SL Class: (1) To provide a lower price entry point, and (2) Better gas mileage. However, in my opinion, an SL Class must offer 'exhilarating performance' above all else, which is why I much prefer the SL 550 over either of the 231's V6 engine options!

http://www.alloywheelsdirect.net/mer.../all/price_asc


https://www.tirerack.com/content/tir.../en/tires.html






:
I completely agree on the V8 bit! In Canada, ABC is standard and it seems to be much, much more reliable than it was on R230's. And for tires, I chose the Michelin Pilot Sport 4s, a non-RFT tire that is absolutely amazing!
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by bob55 View Post
...Below is a link to an MB WHEEL website that shows all available genuine MB 18-inch wheel options for the 231...
Last year's (2018's) configurator showed an 18" wheel for the SL450 that was part of the winter wheel/tire option package. That 18" wheel was the same design as the standard "5-spoke" (actually 10 spokes) 19" wheel now shown on the 2019 SL63 configurator. Someone in the MB parts network will have the part numbers for those 18" wheels...so there is at least one other option available. And, that link is for a U.K. wheel house, so U.S. options may well vary.
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Manhattan View Post
Last year's (2018's) configurator showed an 18" wheel for the SL450 that was part of the winter wheel/tire option package. That 18" wheel was the same design as the standard "5-spoke" (actually 10 spokes) 19" wheel now shown on the 2019 SL63 configurator. Someone in the MB parts network will have the part numbers for those 18" wheels...so there is at least one other option available. And, that link is for a U.K. wheel house, so U.S. options may well vary.
Doc....I think you will find ALL the genuine MB 18-inch wheel options for the 231 simply by clicking on the link below, and note also that you can change the country at the top of the page when you link to this website! ....

http://www.alloywheelsdirect.net/mer.../all/price_asc

Last edited by bob55; 06-18-2019 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:03 PM
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The 18-inch Twin Spoke Wheel was standard, (i.e. the 'stock wheel' for the 231 here in the USA), back when the 231 was first introduced in 2013. An 18-inch wheel size is therefore considered 'the factory standard' when evaluating the ride comfort of a 231.

If you read the 'fine print' in the 'footnotes' of any 231 brochure you will see those notes state that "larger wheels and low profile tires have a negative effect on ride comfort and also increase the likelihood of wheel and tire damage due to road hazards".

All of the 19-inch wheel sizes were formerly 'optional at extra cost' on 231's, (except for AMG models), but are now considered the standard size wheel on the newer 'face lift' models, (2017 to current year). .

Unfortunately, larger diameter (19") low profile 'Run Flat' Tires which have 'extra stiff' sidewalls, are also a 'stock standard' on 231's now, and like the 19-inch, (and larger), wheels, run flat tires also contribute to a 'harsher ride' for the newer models of the SL Class when compared to the ride comfort of 'conventional', (non-run flat tires), mounted on 18-inch rims!


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