- the 2022 mercedes-amg sl will be offered in two models, sl55 and sl63.
- among the notable changes, the sl switches to two-plus-two seating. it also has standard all-wheel drive, a first for the model.
- the new sl arrives in dealerships in early 2022. pricing has not yet been released.
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.
the cabin also features a digital instrument cluster and a large center touchscreen, but they’re not merged under a single piece of glass as in some mercedes models. instead, the sl uses separate screens as in the new s-class. in the roadster, however, the 11.9-inch portrait-oriented center display is adjustable in angle to be more easily seen with the top down. of course, the infotainment runs the latest mbux operating system including the "hey, mercedes" digital assistant. active multicontour seats with massage are standard, as are mercedes's airscarf neck-level heating and (in the sl63) a head-up display.
apart from the bonkers sl65 amg black series, the last great sl was arguably the r129 generation, which for its time was a high-tech tour de force. the new one also ratchets up the technology quotient, bringing the full panoply of mercedes driver-assistance features to the sl. these include augmented video navigation, distonic plus with stop-and-go, and active steering assist including automated lane changing, plus automated parking for perpendicular or parallel spaces. the active brake assist now also watches for oncoming traffic when turning, and a new exit warning system alerts occupants exiting the car to vehicles approaching from behind.
under the hood, the sl skips the previously available twin-turbo v-6 in favor of two v-8s. the m117 v-8 in the sl55 makes 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. the sl63 version makes 577 hp and 590 pound-feet and features active engine mounts. in either car, the hand-built engine is mated to a nine-speed amg speedshift mct automatic transmission with a race start launch-control function. mercedes is giving a factory-estimated zero-to-60-mph time of 3.8 seconds for the sl55 and 3.5 seconds for the sl63.
jochen hermann, chief technical officer for mercedes-amg, confirms that the new sl is also slated to get amg's e performance plug-in-hybrid system. that combines the 4.0-liter v-8 with an electric motor powering the rear wheels and could offer as much as 804 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.
besides all-wheel drive, four-wheel steering appears on the sl for the first time and is also standard. the system cuts the turning circle by approximately two and a half feet, to 40.4 feet. an electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential is standard on the sl63 and optional on the sl55. ceramic-composite brake rotors are optional.
the sl includes adaptive dampers, with the suspension adding hydraulic roll stabilization in place of anti-roll bars on the sl63 (optional on the sl55). an available front-axle lift system can raise the front of the car by 1.2 inches, and it can be programmed to remember a location (such as a steep driveway) and activate automatically. with the addition of all-wheel drive and the switch to two-plus-two seating, curb weight climbs by approximately 220 pounds.
despite all these performance enhancements, the r232 sl does not regain its stature as the brand's range-topping roadster, since it must fly below the amg gt roadster. instead, it needs to be more of a grand tourer—thus the rear seats and all-wheel drive—the better to scoop up any buyers who might have shopped the now-discontinued s-class convertible.
pricing for the 2022 mercedes-amg sl has not been released, but we estimate the sl55's base sticker will come in just under $100,000 and the sl63 will be a good 20 percent more. the new sl arrives in dealerships in the first half of 2022. that's when we'll see whether it can regain its status as a rolling success symbol.