The Mercedes SL-Class has always been an icon, ever since the gullwing 300SL first made its debut back in 1954. Now almost 70 years later, the icon is now finally back again, returning to its roots with a drop-dead design and a classic soft top.
The all-new SL-Class will be offered exclusively under the Mercedes-AMG umbrella, which means you know that it’s a proper performance model first and foremost. On top of living up to its name, though, the all-new SL will also serve as the replacement for the AMG GT Roadster and the already-dead S-Class Cabriolet. No pressure, then.
At the very least, Mercedes has knocked the design part of the car right out of the park. The all-new Mercedes-AMG SL doesn’t have anything particularly new about its design, but it takes all the elements of the marque’s latest design language and distils it into what’s perhaps the best-looking Mercedes model in recent years – at least in our opinion.
And the reason it all works so well is due to its well-judged proportions. Despite actually being quite a lot big bigger than its predecessor (93 mm longer, 38 mm wider, and a 115 mm longer wheelbase), the short overhangs, muscular fenders, and massively-raked windshield all help to make the SL look smaller and tauter.
The choice to return to a fabric roof was a weight-influenced decision, according to Mercedes. Compared to the powered folding hard top of its predecessor, the new three-layer fabric top helps shave off about 21 kg in weight, which significantly helps to lower the SL’s centre of gravity, which should translate into better handling. After all, SL stands for Sport Light.
Other design elements of note include the two “power bulges” on the long bonnet inspired by the original 300 SL, a retractable active rear spoilers with five different angular positions to either optimise handling stability or reduce drag, aerodynamically-optimised wheels up to 21-inches in diameter, and even an aerodynamic louvre in the underbody to create a “Venturi effect”, sucking the car to the road.
The interior of the Mercedes-AMG SL has already been extensively shown-off previously, so no surprises here. It’s a 2+2 layout, and features the brand’s latest MBUX infotainment system, running on a central 11.9-inch portrait touchscreen display that can be tilted from 12 to 32 degrees.
Mercedes uses the word “hyperanalogue” to describe its interior design, which supposedly means a “mix of analogue geometry and digital world”. The best example of that is the “high-tech visor” housing around the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, instead of the usual free-standing ones we see on other new Mercedes-Benz models.
At launch, the all-new Mercedes-AMG SL-Class will be offered in two variants – SL 55 and SL 63, both powered by 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engines. The SL 55 gets 476 hp and 700 Nm, while the SL 63 comes with 585 hp and 800 Nm of torque.
Both engines are paired to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9G automatic multi-clutch gearbox, which translates to 0-100 km/h times of 3.9 and 3.6 seconds respectively, onward to a top speed of 295 km/h and 315 km/h.
Mercedes says that an E Performance hybrid variant will be coming soon, which should feature the same powertrain as the new GT 63 S E Performance.
All-wheel drive is also offered here for the first time on an SL, specifically the marque’s 4MATIC+ fully-variable set-up. The engine is connected permanently to the rear axle, but an electromechanically-controlled clutch controls the amount of torque that’s sent to the front wheels.
Also available here for the first time is a rear-wheel steering system, which helps reduce the SL’s turning circle, and sharpen up its handling.
Mercedes isn’t quite ready to share the all-new SL’s pricing just yet, but the model is expected to hit showrooms in the first half of 2022.