Mercedes-AMG SL changes everything to return to her: only AMG and canvas roof

Il ritorno della Mercedes SL, diversa ma come prima: ora è solo AMG, e solo con tetto in tela thumbnail

Sometimes there is a need to return to oneself change everything, revolutionize what you thought was already established and move on. This is what I thought seeing the new Mercedes-Benz SL, indeed, Mercedes-AMG SL. The new sporty discovery of the Star, the true star of its line-up, is in fact today only available in the supersport AMG versions. A return to the past, to that 300SL Ali di Gabbiano which was in effect a racing car with license plates. The canvas roof is also back, for a car that, after years in the shadow of amg sports cars, wants to get back to talking about itself.

The return of the Sport Licht, the light sports car: after years of comfort and elegance, the SL is a Mercedes-AMG

A revolution to get back to yourself, we said at the beginning. And that’s exactly what happened to the legendary SL, the convertible flagship of the Stuttgart company, for years considered the star’s non plus ultra. Thanks to its status symbol as an “who has arrived” car, to its mix of sporting performance and elegance, between the 50s and 90s Mercedes SL was the obligatory choice for those who wanted performance, comfort and elegance. Since the early ’00s, however, SL has lost consensus.

In fact, if once SL offered the style and performance of a supercar without forcing them to live with the discomfort and unreliability typical of that type of car, with the refinement and increasing reliability of rivals from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Audi, the clientele of SL is it has been getting thinner and thinner. Even the cars, although equipped with unparalleled elegance and comfort, had lost that sporting aura of the origins. In fact, few know that the SL, acronym that stands for Sport Licht, light sporty, it was not born as a luxurious and comfortable sports car, but as a road version of a racing car. The original SL, the legendary 300 SL Ali di Gabbiano, was in fact a registered racing car: equipped with a 210 HP injection engine (in 1954!), A very light tubular frame and a neat but bare and lean interior.

Even the legendary ones gull wing goalkeeper they were not a stylistic exercise, but a necessity to allow the driver to climb over the imposing tubular chassis. Thanks to its innate elegance, however, the SL soon became an object of desire, and the uncompromising sports car was refined, creating the 300SL Roadster and the later 190 SL, sports cars and fast, but now much less extreme. From that 300 SL Roadster the myth of the open SL was born, comfortable but sporty. Then 5 series followed, with the last one, the R231, which ceased production at the end of 2020. And today, that sporty soul returns with the all-new Mercedes-AMG SL, the first produced by the sports division of Mercedes, the AMG of Affalterbach.

A mix of sportiness and elegance: the lines of the Mercedes-AMG SL unite its two souls

And this change of course can also be seen immediately from theaesthetics, which from the first glance leaves you amazed. Although in fact it is decidedly sportier and sharper than all the previous SLs, it does not lack the elegance that cannot be missing on a SL. This the union of a sportier but still elegant character is not accidental: as well as replacing the previous SL, in production since 2012, the new Mercedes-AMG SL also takes the place of the Mercedes-AMG GT Cabrio and the S-Class Cabriolet. The challenge is therefore tough: to combine in a single car the elegance and class of the previous S Cabriolet, the sportiness of the AMG GT C and the balance of SL.

And from an aesthetic point of view, there we are. In fact, the stylistic features of the latest Mercedes are not lacking, namely the triangular and elusive front headlights and the tapered and sporty rear, but they are also noticeable true AMG details, like the large front grille with vertical chrome strips and the split rear exhausts. By the way, the grille is equipped with resealable strips, which in normal driving remain closed to improve aerodynamic penetration, and open only when the V8 needs maximum cooling under the hood. Despite these typically AMG details, however, the new SL has its own distinct personality. The long, low bonnet, the recessed cabin and the high but receding rear end give the new SL a handsome look but never too aggressive or gaudy.

The large alloy wheels, which reach up to 21 inches, and a big comeback: the canvas roof. After two generations and over 20 years of retractable metal roof, in fact, Mercedes returns to its origins and proposes a classic canvas roof that gives the new SL a retro touch that refers to its glorious past. It weighs 27 kg less than the previous metal roof, thus lowering the center of gravity. More, it takes only 15 seconds to retract and can be opened and closed up to a speed of 60 km / h. While the lines make the new Mercedes-AMG SL look compact and compact, size matters: the length is in fact 4.70 m, 10 cm more than the previous generation. To the classic elegance of each SL, the new generation is granted poetic licenses on the theme of sportsmanship.

At the rear, for example, a movable rear wing, which comes out only at speed: otherwise, it remains flush with the tailgate. Speaking of aerodynamics, one is available on request carbon spoiler positioned in the underbody. This aerodynamic profile when you exceed 80 km / h is lowered by a full 4 cm. In this way, a Venturi effect is generated which pushes the car towards the road, increasing the downforce on the front axle.

Inside is the most digital AMG ever: swiveling screen and plenty of space for people and things

It may have become a sportier discovery than usual, but inside the Mercedes-AMG SL does not forget its identity inside. Going on board, in fact, we find a neat interior, equipped with cutting-edge technical solutions and a good availability of space. Mercedes-AMG SL is in fact one 2+2, the first to offer two rear seats again from the 1989 R129. The 10 cm more in length allowed the Mercedes-Benz technicians to obtain more space inside, enough to guarantee sufficient comfort for the rear passengers, and a luggage compartment of 240 liters. But where the Mercedes-AMG SL surprises is in the dashboard and interior layout.

In fact, despite the fact that the AMG sports steering wheel and the containment seats give clues to when what is under the hood is sporty, it is elegance that reigns supreme inside the new SL. The aeronautical-style air vents are of great impact, but what is surprising is the arrangement of digital screens, unlike any current Mercedes. In fact, we do not have a single huge panel like the Hyperscreen seen on EQS, nor the single vertical panel that includes instrument cluster and infotainment, as on several current Mercedes. The Stuttgart company has in fact chosen a more elegant and traditional approach, albeit with inevitable touches of innovation. The digital instrumentation, in fact, is enclosed in a dashboard behind the steering wheel: a traditional position, but which hides a panel that is at the top of Mercedes production in terms of functionality and graphics.

At the center of the dashboard, the large touch screen of the central infotainment. Fit well 11.9 in, is positioned vertically and sports the latest version of the MBUX operating system, seen on the latest S-Class and C-Class among others. The real revolution though is the fact that this screen is electrically adjustable. In what sense? In fact, it is possible through a button on the dashboard change the inclination from 12 to 32 degrees, so as not to have problems in visibility with direct sunlight. It goes without saying that the materials inside have been chosen from among the finest present in the Mercedes “stable”, and that all the main comfort systems are present: air-conditioned electric seats also equipped with Airscarf, a jet of hot air behind the neck that creates a scarf of warm air, function for massages, audio systems of the highest level and so on and so forth.

In addition to the soft top, the 4.0 V8 remains: the Mercedes-AMG SL data sheet is almost a return to the past … waiting for the hybrid

From the point of view technical, Mercedes-AMG SL surprises with the combination of past and present. In what sense? For her, for example, a frame starting from a blank sheet. Although it therefore replaces the Mercedes-AMG GT C, the new SL has nothing to do mechanically with the German sports car. The frame, exclusive to her, is made entirely of aluminum, and reinforced with composite materials. The scheme of suspensions, in addition, it is very sophisticated, with a double wishbones on all four wheels, with the system as standard on all versions AMG Active Ride Control of electronically controlled suspension. The brakes are steel as standard, with i carboceramici on demand.

Then there are the four-wheel steering, with the rears reaching a 2.5 ° turning radius to help the car’s agility. This is a first for Mercedes SL, as a system is available as standard for the first time four-wheel drive, the 4Matic+ already seen on several AMGs, which allows, if desired, to deactivate the traction on the front wheels and enjoy some AMG madness. In a context of so many novelties, however, the choice of the motor, a real return to the past. As we said earlier, in fact, all the new Mercedes SLs will only be in the AMG version. But if the “normal” AMGs progressively switch to 6 or even 4-cylinder engines, the new Mercedes-AMG SL remains faithful to the V8.

In fact, at launch there will be two versions of the wonderful 4.0 V8 biturbo M178. The first, not imported into Italy, is the SL 55, equipped with the V8 with 476 hp and 700 Nm of torque. Alongside this engine, already more than handsome, there will be the SL 63, the only one that will arrive in Italy. And let’s also say luckily: under the hood the V8 receives the engine of the AMG GT R from 585 hp and 800 Nm of torque. Thanks to all-wheel drive, the SL 63 goes from 0 to 100 km / h in 3.5 seconds, and reaches 315 km / h. The change it will be the classic 9G-Tronic automatic 9-speed, and there are, of course, all the active driving safety systems, which allow one level 2 autonomous driving. But there is more.

The SL range shouldn’t be stuck with just these two models. In fact, there should be one “basic” version, probably the 53 with 3.0 engine …