2013 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class spy shot

It's not every day that Mercedes-Benz comes out with a new SL. The roadster that anchors the top of the company's non-AMG production range tends to enjoy an unusually long lifecycle. The iconic first-generation Gullwing was on the market for ten years. The second-gen model lasted just eight years, but the third iteration was around for a whopping eighteen. The boxy fourth version was around for fourteen years, and the current model that replaced it has been on the market since 2003, with a facelift that came in 2008.

Fortunately, a new model is on its way and should put the MkV out to pasture after ten long years of service. Due sometime next year as a 2013 model, these are the clearest shots we've seen yet of what to expect.

Now stripped of all but a bare minimum of disguising, the 2013 SL looks a bit more svelte than the model it replaces, though that doesn't tell us if it'll be any lighter: the current two-seat folding hardtop convertible weights as much as some SUVs. The more upright front grille is both a nod to the SLS AMG and likely a measure to comply with pedestrian-impact regulations enacted in Europe.

It looks as though LEDs are lurking in the lower front intakes on either side, with what seems like it could house a side intake behind the front wheels. The test mule is draped in a new shade of copper we haven't seen before, and we suspect that those unflattering wheels are temporary. Take a gander yourself in our high-res gallery.