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2022 Mercedes-AMG SL

911 rival returns with 4Wd and 577bhp V8

The seventh generation of Mercedes’ SL has been revealed and the new roadster returns to its roots with fabric roof and 2+2 layout, also receives both four-wheel drive (for the first time) and four-wheel steering as standard.

80 Mercedes SL 63 2021 official reveal images static roof up rear 

The R232-generation SL has been developed by the AMG performance car divisionand sits on an all-new aluminium platform, consisting of a spaceframe and self-supporting body structure, provides a significantly more rigid basis than that of the previous SL, an advantage of the new platform, according to AMG, is being able to mount the engine and axles lower than before. This has led to an overall lowering of the centre of gravity for improved dynamic performance.

 79 Mercedes SL 63 2021 official reveal images static roof down

Arriving almost 70 years after the original SL was first introduced, the new model adopts a totally refreshed look to bring it in line with Mercedes’ current design philosophy. The two power bulges on the bonnet are just one of numerous reminiscences of the first SL generation. Characteristic features of the body design are the long wheelbase, the short overhangs, the long bonnet, the passenger compartment set back with a strongly raked windscreen and the powerful rear end. This results in the typical SL proportions. Together with the voluminously sculpted wheel arches and the large alloy wheels flush with the outer skin, they give the roadster its powerful, dynamic appearance. When closed, the seamlessly integrated soft top underscores the purist, sporty impression.

The AMG’s signature Panamericana grille with louvres that open and close depending on cooling requirements emphasises the effect of width of the front and, with its 14 vertical slats, cites the ancestor of all SL models, the legendary 300 SL racing sports car of 1952. Other distinctive design elements include the slim, sharply outlined DIGITAL LIGHT LED headlamps and the equally extremely slim LED rear lamps.

AMG has also given its new roadster active aero with a front spoiler, hidden in the underbody ahead of the engine, automatically extends downwards by 40mm at 50mph to create a Venturi effect, while a large active spoiler element is seamlessly integrated into the boot lid, deploying at five different angles from 50mph onwards to enhance downforce.

A range of aerodynamically optimised alloy wheels with diameters of 19, 20 or 21 inches is available for the SL, reducing drag through less turbulence. Particularly sophisticated are 20-inch wheels with plastic aero rings, which also save weight.

 86 Mercedes SL 63 2021 official reveal images engine

The new SL also features an electric soft top instead of the previous metal roof to save 21kgs in weight and the resulting lower centre of gravity have a positive effect on driving dynamics and handling. The space- and weight-saving Z-fold makes it possible to dispense with a conventional soft-top compartment cover. The front roof cap ensures that the open soft top is flush with the surface in its final position. At the same time, the developers were faced with the task of maintaining the high suitability for everyday use and the exemplary noise comfort. The triple-layer design 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.

Opening and closing takes only about 15 seconds and is possible up to a speed of 60 km/h. The soft top is operated using the switch panel in the centre console or the multimedia touchscreen, on which an animation shows how the process is progressing.

 78 Mercedes SL 63 2021 official reveal images static roof down rear

Mercedes-AMG has confirmed at market launch will be two V8-powered SL models – the SL55 4Matic+ and SL63 4Matic+ , to be joined within the next 12 months by a petrol-electric hybrid-powered SL63e.  

The entry car, which returns the '55' name is powered by AMG’s M176 engine, the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 unit delivers 469bhp and 516lb ft of torque. In combination with a standard nine-speed torque-converter AMG Speedshift MCT automatic gearbox and a fully variable AMG Performance 4Matic+ four-wheel drive system, the less powerful of the new SL  is claimed to go from 0-62mph in 3.9sec and a 183mph top speed.

The SL63 receives AMG’s more heavily tuned M177 engine. Featuring the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 specification as the M176 but with different internals, larger air manifold and greater boost pressure, it develops 577bhp and 590lb ft. Drive is channelled through the same nine-speed gearbox and four-wheel drive system, giving the new model a claimed 0-62mph time of 3.6sec and a 196mph top speed.

There are five standard driving modes – Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual – with an additional Race mode for the SL63 and the SL55 fitted with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package.

Thanks to the introduction of four-wheel drive the kerb weight has also increased, The 1970kg of the range-topping SL63 is 125kg heavier than its predecessor.

AMG says it has focused a lot of development work on heightening the SL’s dynamic attributes. The new model receives an all-new five-link, double-wishbone front suspension set-up in combination with a multi-link rear arrangement similar to that used by the existing GT. The SL55 has conventional anti-roll bars while the SL63 uses hydraulic elements to counteract body roll, both in combination with adaptive damping as standard.

The SL63 boasts an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential, which can also be specified for the SL55 as part of the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package.

The new model also adopts active rear steering as standard for the first time. As with the system used by the AMG GT R, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels at speeds of up to 6mph, and in the same direction above 62mph, bringing what AMG describes as “both agile and stable” handling attributes.

Both models feature 390mm vented and cross-drilled steel brake discs with six-piston callipers up front together with 360mm steel discs with single-piston floating callipers at the rear. Buyers can also specify optional carbon-ceramic discs measuring 402mm at the front and 360mm at the rear.

90 Mercedes SL 63 2021 official reveal images cabin 

The interior of the SL follows Mercedes’ recent arrivals in adopting a protruding, 11.9in touchscreen, It runs the latest generation of Mercedes' MBUX operating system and offers a range of display choices - including bespoke AMG and soft-top display modes.

The touchscreen is paired with a 12.3in LCD driver display and an optional head-up display behind the AMG twin-spoke steering wheel, while the optional AMG Track Pace programme serves as a 'virtual race engineer', recording more than 80 sets of data, including speed, acceleration, steering angle and brake force, up to 10 times per second while on track.

Elsewhere, the SL gets AMG's turbine-style air vents and 'aviation-inspired' instrument panel, electrically adjustable sports seats, beautiful ambient lighting in many colours and an Airscarf function that blows warm air towards the head and neck of front occupants.

Prices for the new SL’s have yet to be confirmed but are likely to be along the same as the current AMG GT Roadster, which starts at £119,990. Set to go on sale in the UK early next year.

96 Mercedes SL 55 2021 official reveal images tracking front