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Mercedes-Benz ripped the covers off its latest model, the seventh-generation SL, which will land in local showrooms in the second half of 2022 to take on other drop-top supercars.
While every other manufacturer continues to eliminate low-volume niche models to make way for popular SUVs, the 2022 SL – as a four-seat, two-door, soft-top roadster with genuine performance pedigree – serves as a bit of breath of fresh air in the crossover-heavy new-car market.
And it’s not like Mercedes used the existing AMG GT or GT 4-door coupe as a basis for the new SL either, with the brand making a point that “not a single component comes from the predecessor SL or any other model such as the AMG GT Roadster”.
Despite its soft-top and four seats, the 2022 SL will be an AMG-only model, and has been “to realise the driving performance typical of AMG with a focus on lateral and longitudinal dynamics, while at the same time meeting the high standards on comfort and safety”, according to Mercedes.
As such, the new SL is fitted with AMG’s ubiquitous 4.0-litre twin-turbo-petrol V8 engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes’ 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system – the latter a first for the nameplate.
Two engine tunes will be offered in the SL, split between its two variants – the entry-level SL 55 and the top-spec SL 63.
In the base car, outputs rear 350kW/700Nm for a zero-to-100km/h acceleration time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 295km/h.
The flagship SL 63 meanwhile, ups the ante to 430kW/800Nm, dropping the 0-100km/h run to just 3.6s, while raising the top speed 315km/h.
This positions the 2022 SL 63 below the 470kW/900NM GT 63 S 4-door coupe, but above the 430kW/700Nm GT R coupe in terms out outputs, and lines it up nicely against the 441kW/760Nm Ferrari Portofino, 470kW/600Nm Lamborghini Huracan Performante Spyder, 419kW/600Nm McLaren 570S Spider, 427kW/750Nm Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet and recently-discontinued 449kW/580Nm Audi R8 Spyder V10 performance.
All 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL cars return a fuel consumption figure between 11.8-12.7 litres per 100km.
For those that want a more frugal SL though, Mercedes has confirmed a Performance hybrid plug-in powertrain at a later date.
Up to six driving modes are on offer in the SL, depending on specification – including Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Race – which alters the driving characteristics of the car according.
Other performance goodies include adaptive suspension, active anti-roll stabilisation and four-wheel steering, while AMG ceramic brakes are available as an option.
From the outside, the new SL looks like a classic sports car thanks to a lengthy wheelbase, short overhangs, a long bonnet and bulging wheel arches.
AMG’s signature Panamericana front grille features up front, flanked by sleek headlights, while active aero elements can be found in the bumper to help cool the turbocharged V8.
The rear features slick LED tail-lights, quad exhaust outlets, diffuser and retractable spoiler, with wheel options ranging from 19-21 inches.
Inside, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is tucked behind the AMG steering wheel, while the front occupants are treated to sports seats with Mercedes’ ‘Airscarf’ technology that vents warm air from the headrest to keep passengers comfortable with the roof down on cold days.
Nestled between the driver and front passenger is a second-generation MBUX multimedia system, splayed across an 11.9-inch portrait touchscreen and with features such as satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands.
Although the SL has seating for four, Mercedes describes the layout as a 2+2, with the second row designed to accommodate people up to 150cm in height.
Mercedes has also opted for a fabric roof only in the 2022 SL instead of a folding hardtop to save weight, which is able to be open/closed in about 15 seconds at speeds of up to 60km/h.
The windscreen frame also strong enough to double as roll-over protection, while a quick-deploying rear roll bar is also fitted behind the second row.
Mercedes is offering 12 paint options for the SL, including the exclusive Hyper Blue metallic and Monza Grey magno, which can be mixed with three roof colours and nine different wheel choices.
Australian pricing and specification will be locked in closer to the SL’s 2022 launch.