Talk about a makeover - because the Mercedes SL has been ‘redeveloped’ and re-birthed as a sumptuous soft-top with space for four people.
What’s more, the Mercedes-AMG SL now comes with all-wheel-drive and four wheel steering as standard.
This is a facelift that leans heavily on past history.
The original SL of the 1950s was an absolute design classic, with its gullwing doors and proper racing pedigree. You’ll see style cues from the retro 300 SL in the new Mercedes-AMG SL, which gets the old 300’s twin ‘power bulges’ on the bonnet and it’s been created with a ‘light and low’ philosophy at the forefront of minds - the sort of attributes that made the 300 SL such a track weapon.
But there’s also something very fresh about the new Mercedes-AMG SL.
The most recent incarnation - the Mercedes-Benz ‘R231’ - was a two-seater roadster available with a monster 6.0 litre V12 engine.
The new Mercedes-AMG SL, however, is a four seat convertible, which instantly transforms the SL into a stunning grand tourer, and which pays homage to the car’s true roots.
After all, the ‘SL’ bit stands for ‘Sport Light’, a phrase that always suggested a ‘GT’ vehicle.
Jochen Hermann, Chief Technical Officer of Mercedes-AMG, says:
“We at Mercedes-AMG consider it a great honour to have had the privilege to develop the new edition of this sports car icon. When we were tasked with the overall development of the new SL, we were able to start from scratch without building on an existing structure. We are proud of the result, which once again demonstrates the high level of engineering expertise in Affalterbach. The new 2+2 concept combines agile driving dynamics with a high level of comfort and unrestricted suitability for everyday use.”
Looks wise, the SL gets a long wheelbase, short overhangs, a long bonnet and ‘voluminously sculpted’ wheel arches with large alloys. There’s an AMG-specific radiator grille with 14 vertical slats, which again apes the 300 SL racing sports car of 1952.
Inside the cabin, there’s a cutting-edge adjustable central display in the centre console, while the 2+2 seat formation ‘offers more room and functionality than before’, says Mercedes-AMG. Lease customers will also enjoy the Mercedes-Benz ‘MBUX’ infotainment system.
Meanwhile warm air is blasted out of the head restraints to ‘wrap around the head and neck area of the driver and front passenger like a scarf’.
Mercedes-AMG has opted for a fabric soft-top rather than a folding metal one in order to save weight. Opening and closing the roof takes only about 15 seconds and is possible up to a speed of 37mph.
And when the SL is properly launched it’ll be available in two different guises - the SL 63 4MATIC+ and the less-powerful-but-still-potent SL 55 4MATIC+ - both of which feature a 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine assembled purely by hand at the company's site in Affalterbach, Germany.
The SL 63 develops power of 585 hp and provides a maximum torque of 800 Nm. Accelerating from 0-62mph takes just 3.6 seconds.
The SL 55 meanwhile has power of 476 hp, 700 Nm of torque, and will sprint to 62mph in 3.9 seconds.
At a later date, the SL will also be offered as a powerful hybrid, with details of that to be released in due course.
And one of the SL’s biggest selling points will be the way it handles. For the first time in its almost 70-year history, the SL is available with a drive system acting on all four wheels. The two V8 models are equipped with AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive technology as standard.
A Mercedes-AMG spokesperson explains:
“This intelligent system combines the advantages of different drive concepts: the fully variable torque distribution to the front and rear axles ensures optimal traction right up to the physical limit. The driver is also able to rely on high handling stability and a high level of safety under all conditions."
The SL is also equipped with active rear-axle steering, as standard, for the first time ever.
The AMG spokesperson adds:
“Depending on the speed, the rear wheels steer either in the opposite direction or in the same direction as the front wheels. The system thus enables both agile and stable handling - characteristics that are in contrast to each other without rear-axle steering. Other advantages include easier vehicle control at the limits and less steering effort because the front-wheel steering ratio is more direct.”
As in the current generations of the Mercedes C-Class and S-Class, the driver is supported by numerous new or enhanced systems - in everyday situations, for example, by assistance for speed adaptation, distance control, steering and lane changes. When danger threatens, the assistance systems are able to respond to impending collisions.
Philipp Schiemer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, adds:
“The new SL combines the sporty genes of the original SL with the driving performance typical of AMG. At the same time, it offers luxury and comfort at the absolute top level. This combination is unique in the sports car segment and is also reflected in the interior - where the highest levels of comfort and quality meet the right helping of sportiness. The high-quality combination of analogue world and state-of-the-art digital equipment makes it clear that the new SL is the rebirth of an icon for the modern era.”
The new Mercedes-AMG SL will arrive in dealerships early in 2022.
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