After a few months of absence from the Mercedes catalog, the convertible returns more technological than ever. And it is to the sports division of the brand that we owe it!
Present in the range of the star brand for decades, the SL is being renewed this year. And more than a simple update, it is almost a revolution compared to the R231 generation produced between 2012 and 2021. The R232 generation indeed marks the big comeback of the canvas top, which barely retracts. 15 s and up to 60 km / h. By the way, it saves 21 kg of high perched weight compared to the folding hard roof that has been used for nearly 20 years. After strict R230 and R231 two-seater, the star brand also returns to a 2 2 configuration, more versatile even if we should not hope to travel comfortably in the rear. However, the total length reaches 4.71 m long, which is 9 cm more than before! But the biggest news is that the new SL is badged Mercedes-AMG. Understand by this that, as with the AMG GT, it was the wizards of Affalterbach who ensured its development.
The message is strong, because instead of being labeled as a luxury car, the SL is presented for the first time in years with a marked sporty character. This does not prevent it from displaying all the same 1,970 kg on the scale, and at the same time not really paying tribute to its initials which mean Sport Leicht (light sport, in German). To ensure a minimum of dynamism, Mercedes has deployed all the paraphernalia at its disposal to make its big baby an efficient and fast machine. Also we find as standard a semi-active hydraulic anti-roll system instead of simple torsion bars, an electronically controlled rear differential or even steered rear wheels that turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels up to 100 km / h (in the same direction above).
The SL will also be offered exclusively, this is new, with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Its parents wanted to make the iconic roadster a versatile and efficient car, so the front axle will never be completely disconnected, unlike an E 63 S which has, for example, a drift mode making it pure propulsion. The technical managers assured us that the rear axle would be greatly favored by default, and that the torque distribution would only be 50/50 when the need for grip is maximum.
And the search for traction will be a question, since the discoverable will initially only land in France in the SL 63 4MATIC version, rigged with a good old V8 coupled to the in-house multi-clutch transmission called 9G-MCT. This 4.0 biturbo unit develops 585 hp and no less than 800 Nm of torque, enough to send the 0 to 100 km / h in just 3.6 s and point to 315 km / h. Other engines and power levels will be available later. On markets other than ours, a wiser SL 55 4MATIC version will also be offered from launch, equipped with the same V8 4.0 deflated to 476 hp with a different boost pressure and electronic management.
The new architecture used for the SL, although not having a single part in common with the previous generation, is not designed to accommodate the batteries of a 100% electric motor. The plug-in hybrid is not to be ruled out, however. We should therefore see the unloading of electrified versions to level the range up, with for example the 63 SE Performance version of 843 hp and downright 1,400 Nm of cumulative torque recently presented at the Munich show (Porsche does the same on the Panamera and Cayenne by reserving the most powerful engines for the hybrid), but also from below. It is therefore possible, even probable, that we will see a 4-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain as entry-level, which will also find its place under the hood of the future C 63 AMG. As for the V12 6.0, it will not make its appearance under the hood of the SL, because it is considered too complicated to fit and cool effectively in the chassis, just as incompatible with the sporting spirit advocated by the new SL.
Status requires, the interior of the German is neat. Very worked aerators facno turbine, leather, suede, carbon, aluminum, nothing is missing. If the very classic layout is very reminiscent of the interior of the new S-Class, the SL has a large touch screen 11.9 inches in portrait format which has the particularity of being motorized. Thus, it can tilt from 12 to 32 degrees to compensate for any unwanted reflection when the top is folded. Gadget, but smart! In the SL 63, the infotainment system incorporates an AMG Track Pace application, which allows, among other things, to display all the telemetry relating to the track outputs. But its functions do not stop there since it is also possible to choose from a base of pre-recorded circuits (Spa, the Nürburgring …) or even to record a track after having driven on it, so that the display head-up indicates braking points and cornering angles. Once a time is set, we can even follow the race line taken from the previous lap via augmented reality. Functions that previously only existed in video games and are now available in real life!
To avoid duplication, the arrival of the SL will very probably sign the death of the AMG GT, on the market since 2014. No official communication has gone in this direction for the moment, but the brand mentioned us at half-word wanting to avoid cannibalizing the sales of one by the other. A false surprise, since the AMG GT Black Series (the ultimate version of the GT boosted to 730 hp) sounded like swansong. While we will not see a replacement for the AMG GT Roadster for a while, it is not impossible that Mercedes-AMG will decide to bring out a coupe in the coming years, just to find a sporting standard-bearer. But if it does happen, the latter will have to be more radical than the SL, that is to say more sporty than GT.
The new SL will arrive next year at an as yet unknown price. And it will obviously not be in France that it will be the most sold, some of its main markets being the United States, Canada and the Middle East.
All subscription offers to L’Automobile Magazine, the benchmark monthly auto magazine for over 70 years: fun, practicality, expertise.
Legal notices Personal data Contacts My account Subscribe Our RSS feeds
The Automobile Magazine is a member of the Car Of The Year jury – Copyright © 2021