The SL’s exterior styling balances the sporty genes typical of AMG and the Three-pointed Star brand’s ‘Sensual Purity’ design philosophy. “The enlarged dimensional concept with 2+2 seats offered the designers more freedom in their design possibilities,” said Mercedes-AMG.
Invoking the spirit of the 300 SL, the ancestor of all SL models, the latest generation’s model-specific radiator grille characterises the dramatic front fascia. Sharp-edged headlamp clusters housing LED lighting units, and striking LED daytime running lights flank the Panamericana grille. Sited opposite sides of the latter item, the ‘jet wing’ front apron’s large outer air intakes taper towards the centre of the lower bumper, with three fins channelling airflow to the radiator and the front splitter enhancing aerodynamics. The latter is further increased by a seamlessly integrated (into the boot lid) active spoiler, engineered to extend to one of four positions depending on your travelling speed. According to Mercedes, the SL’s ‘Z-fold’ roof enabled its designers to produce a powerful rear end accentuated by slim LED taillamps.
Stepping inside, the “hyper analogue”, driver-focused cockpit features several aviation-inspired design elements, most notably the SL-specific instrument binnacle — which houses a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, replete with AMG graphics — and a quartet of newly developed, galvanised turbine-like air vents, sited on the dashboard. A contemporary AMG staple, two roundels, used to select the driving mode and adjust the suspension set-up, are fixed to the multifunction steering wheel, replete with capacitive controls. Infotainment is taken care of by Mercedes’ now-familiar 11.9-inch, portrait-orientated touchscreen, incorporating the firm’s latest MBUX software. Mercedes claims the 2+2-seater has a luggage capacity of 335 litres.
The SL is available in three formats, with only the SL 43 currently (at the time of writing) available in South Africa. This variant employs a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine with an electric exhaust gas turbocharger. According to Philipp Schiemer, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes‑AMG GmbH, with this technology, the entry-level SL has an outstanding performance range. Coupled with a nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT, the turbo-petrol unit sends 280 kW and 480 Nm exclusively to the rear wheels. Mercedes says the SL 43 completes the 0-100 km/h sprint in 4.9 seconds before topping out at 275 km/h. The average fuel consumption is 9.0 L/100 km. The SL 43 is priced from R2 493 846. Pricing includes a five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan and a two-year/unlimited km warranty.
Second from the top is the SL 55, a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 version endowed with 350 kW and 700 Nm for a claimed 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 295 km/h. Spearheading the global line-up, the SL 63 makes to with the same powertrain, tuned to deliver 430 kW and 800 Nm, figures allowing the pinnacle, all-wheel-drive SL to sprint to the three-figure marker from a standstill in 3.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 315 km/h. Not enough performance? Not to worry. Mercedes says an E-Performance derivative will be introduced in the future.