The Mercedes SL is in line for a wholesale reinvention. Mercedes-AMG has taken charge of development, and it’s anticipated this means the new one will share a platform with the next-generation AMG GT.
As seen in these officially-revealed prototype images, the car will also ditch the folding hardtop arrangement used on every SL for the last 19 years (bar the enormously expensive fixed-roof SL63 Black Series, of course), decreasing both weight and complexity.
With the AMG GT underpinnings, Affalterbach involvement in the project and the promise to take the car “back to its roots, which lay in motorsport back in 1952,” it seems as though this is going to be a much more focused vehicle than the outgoing R231. But not too focused, or it’ll threaten to pinch sales from GT. Mercedes will have to walk this line carefully.
Giving the SL further distinction from its more hardcore big bro, rumour has it there’s an extra pair of seats squeezed in the back, and the size and shape of the cockpit seem to support this. This would make the new SL the one designed from the outset as a 2+2 - the R231 and 230 were strict two-seaters, while the R129 and R107 merely had the option of token rear seats.
The starting point for the range will likely be a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six, with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 placed just above. A new AMG SL63 should happen at some point, although a V12-powered SL65 seems pretty much impossible at this stage.
Mercedes says that “wide-ranging dynamic driving tests” both at its facility in Immendingen and on public roads have now commenced. Keep your eyes peeled in 2021 for a full reveal.