Walid Bouarab 21/10/2022
The new Mercedes SL earns true sports stripes. And for good reason, AMG itself took over its development. The result is a convertible that’s still luxurious and technological, but this time it can stand up to the best sports cars. One of the best crus.
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Launched in the 1950s, the SL is probably one of Mercedes’ most iconic models. The two letters that contributed to the brand’s reputation in the competition, meaning Sport Leicht, made it a model of sport and lightness. But the decades have clearly improved the model towards more luxury, and kilos on the scale… What betrayed the original philosophy, convinced the last generations with neither sport nor design.
The latest model disappointed fans of the original concept with its awkward line and slightly clumsy speaker behavior. A generation that has been in the catalog for more than a decade and is available alongside the Mercedes-AMG GT (also available as a roadster), which doesn’t cost much to replace. The latter has finally left the German catalog and the SL has changed to a more appetizing one this year in this new generation (R231).
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First class view
There’s a little effect of the usual Mercedes atmosphere on board: turbine-shaped air vents, a high-tech multi-spoke steering wheel with touch controls, display ambient lighting and a huge 11.9-inch center screen that extends electrically. A very practical innovation to prevent reflections after folding the hood.
This canvas is also a return to basics, replacing the heavy retractable roof. The soft top folds in just 15 seconds and reaches 60 km/h.
The German roadster has also been converted to a 2+2 to increase its versatility, although those two folding seats are used more for luggage than people…
Build quality is top-notch and the riding position is ideal, although it doesn’t allow you to easily grasp the beast’s impressive size.
On the other hand, a small apartment for ergonomics is, frankly, complicated. Between touch buttons on the steering wheel that are irritating to use, or soft-top controls controlled via the touchscreen, the SL plays a little too “all digital”.
The biggest change for this new SL-Class is its development. If the previous generations were available in the AMG version, here the wizards of the sports department of Mercedes stand at the beginning of the model. And that changes everything. The SL is based on a new platform (which should be used for the next GT generation), an innovative running gear, and still has the massive V8 under the hood (there’s also a 43 version with a four-cylinder 381 horsepower).
Also, for the first time, a German sports car gets an all-wheel drive system. On paper, this probably means weight and behavior neutralized by torque distribution. In practice, it’s something else entirely, and this new SL no longer has anything to do with the somewhat clumsy dragster of previous generations.
Sports, in the clouds
Fortunately, the German developers kept all the charm of the V8 house. This 4.0 biturbo develops 585 horsepower and 800 Nm of torque! The weight of the car, which is put in front of the impressive figures, is more than two tons with the driver. Despite everything, the thrust remains impressive and we quickly find ourselves at the bottom of the seats with ample support.
Full at low revs, quick in the revs and furious near the red zone, this block remains compelling, turning this SL into a veritable rocket that can easily top 300 km/h. It also does so with a typical AMG, throaty, board-like sound. But it gains nuance with a sharper top end, deceleration feedback and fun turbo exhaust sounds. Live!
But this Mercedes-AMG SL63 now knows how to do more than go fast in a straight line. Modified by the development of the AMG department, this convertible impresses with its dynamic behavior.
Its front axle happily accepts the rope throw, the steering wheel is pushed very far, and the stability on the stand is impressive. The SL features an innovative anti-skid system because it is wheelless. Each shock absorber, in communication with the others, can change the pressure to maintain a constant relationship. The system adapts to driving mode and surface to offer devilish efficiency for such a machine.
The SL deftly manages to make people forget about its weight and reveals agility unknown to the model at the time. All-wheel drive certainly calms the once-fickle rear axle, but torque distribution helps the drive. What brings a certain homogeneity to the whole without freezing the experience. Admittedly, the Drift mode (available on other AMG V6s like the E-Class or the AMG GT 4-door), which allows you to encourage drifts, is not part of the game here, but it seems that this model..
Perfectly sporty, the new Mercedes creation is nevertheless a great GT, where deck riding is part of the game. We’d have preferred more relaxed damping and a slightly less brutal transmission in Comfort mode, but long journeys won’t be punished. The state-of-the-art technological content, the impressive high-end Burmester sound system and the endless reserve of power that lies under the right foot really pay off. Obviously, so much know-how demanded at a high price and this SL63 AMG starts at €190,000 excluding options and €40,000 in fines. But we are dealing with a truly exceptional vintage, and it would be almost vulgar to talk about big money.
Substantial size, crazy prices, perfect comfort
0 – 100 km/h:
13 l/100 km
Active and passive safety:
Comfort and life on board:
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