While many convertibles these days come with a rigid roof that folds down in some way or another, for the next generation of the famous Mercedes SL Super Leight it’s a return to the canvas folding roof, heck, even Rolls Royce and Bentley stick with their fabric roofs on the convertible models, so why shouldn’t Mercedes do the same on this new car that is officially called the Mercedes-AMG SL, a legacy that goes back 70 years into the past with the legendary 300 SL from 1952, a very successful race car.
“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 the analog 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”, says Philipp Schiemer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The new Mercedes-AMG SL is a combination of the sensual Mercedes design with the aggressiveness of AMG, just one detail is the two ‘bulges’ on the engine cover that are a direct hint to the very first generation of Mercedes SL cars, but another typical giveaway for an SL is the long wheelbase with short overhangs front and rear, the low windshield and wide rear, reminiscent of traditional SL proportions with a modern interpretation, the new car looks great, with or without the roof closed.
If you take a look at the AMG-bespoke front grille you’ll notice a total of 14 vertical slats, once again a direct inspiration from the 1952 Mercedes 300 SL, the Gullwing, but now with very thin LED headlights and taillights to create the impression this already low and wide car is even lower and wider visually.
While on the interior the combination of sports and luxury is another testament to the homage they want to give to the 300 SL, the finest materials fitted by the best artisans possible result in extreme levels of comfort, while still retaining the sportscar feeling, a 2+2 car that is, as the new Mercedes-AMG SL can fit two people in the rear … given they aren’t taller than 150cm that is, while the driver and passenger are seated in electrically adjustable AMG sports seats, complete with the AIRSCARF for more comfort, if you really insist, you can even order optional AMG Performance seats.
The Mercedes-AMG SL is based on a new development vehicle architecture, the 2+2 seater comes with a lightweight aluminum spaceframe chassis, created from the ground up, nothing was taken from either the previous SL or the AMG GT Roadster, the Mercedes-AMG SL is a completely new car altogether, combining materials like aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, and steel for the windshield for added safety, still the entire bodyshell weighs only 270 kgs.
The new Mercedes-AMG SL comes with active aero, called AIRPANEL on this car, it’s a two-piece active air control system, the first operates with vertical louvers inside the lower air intake at the front, while the second piece sits behind the upper air intake with horizontal louvers, all louvers are closed normally to drag and allow air to be directed specifically towards the underbody. In this configuration, they also reduce front lift, but when a certain temperature on predefined components is reached, and the demand for cooling air is particularly high do these louvers open, the second piece from 180 km/h and more, to direct a maximum of cool air to flow onto the heat exchangers.
While the rear naturally has an active wing, that sits flush with the boot lid normally, is raised when speeds go over 80 km/h in five different angles, but there is an optional active aero listed, hiding underneath the car just in front of the engine, a carbon fiber lip that can be extended 40 mm down to create a venturi effect that ‘sucks’ the car down to the street to reduce axle-lift.
The choice for a soft-top convertible on the new Mercedes-AMG SL was quickly made when it came out this would shave 21 kgs in weight from the top of the car, hence reducing the center of gravity considerably, it takes just 15 seconds to open, or close, and this action can be performed at speeds up to 60 km/h, the three-layer design of the soft-top consists of a tightly stretched outer shell, precisely crafted roof liner and the acoustic mat made of high-quality 450 g/m² material inserted in between.
For the launch of the Mercedes-AMG SL there is an option of two different power outputs from the famous AMG 4-Liter Biturbo V8 engine, the top of the line model will come with the 585 hp unit and is called the SL 63 4MATIC+, with 800 Nm of torque, acceleration takes just 3.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h while the top speed is a staggering 315 km/h. There will also be an SL 55 4MATIC+ with ‘only’ 476 hp and 700 Nm of torque, acceleration figures for this ‘entry-level’ model will be 3.9 seconds while she will run out of breath at 295 km/h, at this time an AMG E PERFORMANCE hybrid is already being developed.
All Mercedes-AMG SL will be 4MATIC models, hence feature four-wheel drive for the first time in 70 years, power from the V8 engine goes through a 9-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT transmission, fully variable torque distribution to the front and rear axles ensures optimal traction right up to the physical limit, another first in the SL legacy is active rear-wheel steering, and we all know how this alters both low speed and high-speed maneuvers.
I have to admit I’ve been a fan of the topless Mercedes SL for many years, personally, I would prefer a 300 SL convertible of the much more valuable Gullwing model, but that’s just me, I also liked the E107, the classic that was built between 1971 and 1989, specifically the later SL500 model with a removable hardtop for instance, while the R129 is a sculpture of automotive art … and somehow this new Mercedes-AMG SL looks totally different, a lot more contemporary, but she’s still a beauty, and I sure wouldn’t mind parking the SL 63 on my driveway.