2022 Mercedes-AMG SL Revealed, Seeking to Recapture the Magic
The Mercedes SL is a car that used to loom large in the public consciousness, but that hasn’t been the case lately. Once widely recognized as a rolling symbol of success, the SL’s sheen faded with the R230 generation that debuted for 2002 and the follow-up R231 generation that was ushered offstage after 2020. Seeking to shake off the doldrums, the all-new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL alters the formula with the most dramatic changes yet.
The change in nomenclature is a tipoff that the development of the new SL was handed over to the AMG division. The new SL debuts a new AMG architecture, and Mercedes claims that nothing under the skin of the new R232 generation is carried over from its predecessor or shared with the AMG GT roadster.
The car will be offered initially as the SL55 and the SL63, both using a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. For the first time, though, the SL’s engine will be powering all four wheels, as AMG’s 4Matic+ all-wheel drive is standard on both models.
The SL’s new look is smoother and rounder, with a larger cabin, a less-exaggerated hood length, and a stubbier tail. The new SL adds nearly 5 inches between the axles, with the wheelbase growing from 101.7 to 106.3 inches. Overall length, by contrast, increases by just under three inches, to 185.2. Width is up by an inch and a half, to 75.4 inches. Cargo space is about the same as before at 8.5 cubic feet, or 7.5 with the roof stowed. Both models roll on 20-x-9-inch front and 20-x-11.5-inch rear wheels, with 21s available as an option.
The SL55 can be dressed up with a chrome package or an AMG Night package, while the SL63 offers an AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber package and an AMG Aerodynamics package. The latter includes an active aero element in the underbody in front of the engine that extends to increase downforce. All SLs, however, feature active louvers on the front air intakes and a retractable rear spoiler.
From the front, with its “Panamericana” vertical-bar grille, the new SL looks much like the current AMG GT roadster, but that model will be redesigned soon, and Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener says that when it appears, “the difference [between the two cars] will be more.”
Whereas the last two SL generations featured a retractable hard top, Mercedes has reverted to a classic soft top for the new car, marking another major departure. As Wagener notes, “If you start with a retractable hard top again, you will get what you have right now, which is not appealing in my view.”
The triple-layer canvas roof weighs 46 pounds less than the previous retractable hard top and can be raised or lowered in 15 seconds at speeds up to 37 mph. It also allowed Mercedes to enlarge the SL’s cabin without the need for a commensurately larger boot to house an outsize folding hard top. The stretched passenger compartment wedges in a pair of rear jump seats, a feature last offered in the R107 model of the 1980s.