Five years after its introduction, Mercedes‑Benz reworked the SL, which it unveiled in 2006 at the International Motor Show in Geneva. The engines, drive train, and chassis were sportier.
The V8 engine (M 273) in the SL 500 was a new design with a displacement of 5.5 litres and an output of 285 kW (388 hp) that accelerated the vehicle from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds. In the US, the vehicle was marketed as SL 550.
The six-cylinder engine in the SL 350 had also been redesigned. The output of the 200 kW (272 hp) V6 engine (M 272) had increased by 11 percent and its fuel consumption decreased by more than 1 litre per 100 km. NEDC combined consumption was 10.3 litres per 100 km. The SL 350 accelerated from 0 to 100 km in 6.6 seconds, making it more than half a second faster than the previous model.
The leader of the pack was the V12 twin-turbo SL 600. Its output increased to 380 kW (517 hp) and its maximum torque to 830 Nm. The SL's 12-cylinder engine accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds.
Mercedes‑Benz equipped the refreshed V6 and V8 models with the 7-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC. The Active Body Control ABC (standard in the SL 500 and SL 600, optional in the SL 350) had also been enhanced. Compared with the previous model, the body moved 60% less in dynamic driving situations.
Subtle design changes to the body included the new bumper with three large cooling air intakes, a more pronounced arrow shape and fog lights set in chrome rings. The new matt-silver radiator grille had three chromed louvers. The new light-alloy wheels were absolute eye catchers. The horizontally divided tail lights with red-and-white clear-glass covers underlined the width of the SL's muscular rear even more.
The restyling in the passenger compartment included a softer grain of leather upholstery, new colours, embossed aluminium trims and metal door sills with embossed Mercedes‑Benz lettering.
From 2007, the SL 350 and SL 500 could be equipped with an optional Sports Package for €2,975. The highlights included silver contrast stitching, perforated leather and aluminium trims. The car's look was also determined by 19-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels that revealed silver-coated brake callipers. Drilled brake discs on the rear contributed to excellent deceleration values. The automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC Sport with shift paddles on the steering wheel was also part of the standard equipment package. The distinguishing features included smoked tail lights.
The R 230 series was extensively redesigned in 2008. One of the biggest changes was the new front end. The SL 280 and the SL 63 AMG were also introduced.