Motoring / Motoring News

Charl Bosch
Online Motoring Reporter
5 minute read
29 Oct 2021
9:00 am

All-new AMG developed Mercedes-Benz SL revealed

Charl Bosch

SL replaces the GT Roadster and becomes the first iteration since 2001 to feature a soft-top roof.

New SL in returning "entry-level" 55 guise

After a series of teaser images, spy images and rumours dating back almost two years, Mercedes-Benz has officially unveiled the all-new AMG developed SL.

The seventh generation SL, and the first completely new iteration since the now outgoing R231 debuted in 2012, the internally designated R232 not only serves as the replacement for the AMG GT Roadster, but for the first, will be sold exclusively in AMG guise with the initial line-up capped at two models.

New platform with a soft lid

Based on the new MSA platform made largely out of aluminium, the R232 heralds the return of a soft-top roof last used on the R129 that ended production in 2001.

A key part of the newcomer, the inclusion of the roof has resulted in a 21 kg weight drop over the R231’s hard-top, with the three-layer fabric top folding in a Z-pattern from open to close and down to up in 15 seconds at speeds up to 60 km/h.

New Mercedes-Benz SL
Soft-top roof returns for the first time since 2001.

Aesthetically, the SL sports a design similar to not only the GT, but also the S-Class with the standard fitting of the Panamericana grille, as well as sleeker LED headlights, a new take on the characteristic long SL bonnet and a rear facia that incorporates elements from the GT as well as the SLS.

As before, three exterior packages are optionally available; the AMG Chrome Package, the Night Package consisting of blacked-out trim pieces, the gloss black Night Package II and the Carbon Package.

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Compared to the R231, the R232 measures 74 mm longer at 4 705 mm with its wheelbase expanding by a substantial 115 mm to 2 700 mm. In another return to past generations, the newcomer sports a 2+2 seat design with the often lamented “third” pew in the rear falling away completely.

AMG dynamics

Riding as standard on 20-inch alloy wheels with the option of upgrading to 21-inches, the SL is brand-new underneath with the platform and aluminium construction being complimented by the additional use of carbon fibre, lightweight steel and magnesium in order to conform to the Sport Leicht nomenclature.

New Mercedes-Benz SL
Interior finally sees the debut of the S-Class derived MBUX setup.

Said to be 18% percent stiffer than the R231 with longitudinal rigidity being 40% up on that of the GT Roadster, the R232’s entire body, sans the bonnet and doors, weighs a mere 270 kg with AMG stating that nothing from the former model has been carried over.

Dynamically, the SL continues to offer the AMG Ride Control suspension, which has been redesigned in that the standard steel layout boasts aluminium shock absorbers and lightweight coil springs.

In another SL, as well as AMG first, a five-link front suspension design features at the front, along with a five-link setup at the rear. Reserved for the top-spec 63 is Active Ride Control dampers that adjusts to the various surfaces.

As further part of the SL’s weight saving, the steering knuckles and wheel hubs are also made out of aluminium, with the mentioned coil springs featuring special tuning in order to reduce weight by 0.2 kg per spring.

New Mercedes-Benz SL
SL 63 fronts the line-up for now.

The SL 63 also comes as standard with an electronic limited slip differential, but joins its entry-level sibling, the returning SL 55, in being fitted as standard with hydraulic dampers, an SL first rear-axle steering system and five AMG Dynamic Select driving modes; Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual.

It does however come with a Race mode its lesser sibling can only be equipped with when specified with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package, which comprises the mentioned differential, more rigid engine mounts, a 10 mm lower ride height and yellow AMG branded brake calipers.

In terms of stopping power, both models are outfitted with a composite vented and perforated braking system made up of a six-piston caliper setup at the front and single at the rear. The discs meanwhile measure 390 mm at the front and 360 mm at the rear with those of the 55 finished red and yellow in the case of the 63.

Optional though are the carbon ceramic items that retain the caliper setup and disc size at the rear, with the fronts being larger at 402 mm.

New Mercedes-Benz SL
Roof can be lowered and opened in 15 seconds.

Sporting improved aerodynamics thanks in part to the active rear spoiler and what AMG calls Airpanel air control made-up of a series of louvers and intakes on the body, the SL’s interior rates as a massive departure from that of its predecessor.

Hey to a new interior

Inspired by the S-Class, the MBUX infotainment system makes its long awaited debut, resplendent on a freestanding tablet-like 11.9-inch display with integrated Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and over-the-air-updates.

Supplemented by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the interior also boats a new twin-spoke AMG Performance steering wheel, new seats featuring an improved Air Scarf neck warmer, a selection of materials, colours and veneers, plus the optional new AMG Performance seats trimmed in Nappa leather with either diamond quilting or micro-fibres.

Unsurprisingly, the SL’s safety and driver assistance systems have been given a complete overhaul to now include the following:

  • Active Lane Keeping Assist;
  • Traffic Sign Alert;
  • Active Steering Assist;
  • Active Distance Assist Distronic;
  • Active Emergency Stop Assist;
  • Active Brake Assist with Cross Traffic Alert;
  • Pre-Safe Crash Detection;
  • Active Blind Spot Assist with Exit Warning;
  • Active Lane Change Assist;
  • Drive Attention Alert
New Mercedes-Benz SL
Sportier interior touches prevalent.

A familiar heart but more traction

As hinted at by now, the SL line-up with initially comprise two models with more set to be added. Both however make use of the tried-and-tested 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 that produces 350kW/700Nm in the SL 55 and 430kW/800Nm in the SL 63.

While connected to a revised version of the nine-sped MCT dual-clutch gearbox that features launch control, drive is routed to all four wheels, another SL first, via the AMG optimised 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system.

In terms of performance, the SL 55 will get from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 3.9 seconds and hit 295 km/h, while the SL 63 will dispatch the benchmark sprint in 3.6 seconds and top out at 315 km/h.

Availability

For now, the SL remains unconfirmed for South Africa, but expect a likely announcement in due course with sales set to start next year.