This is more than the re-birth of a legend.
If ever there was a legend in the luxury sports car category, it’s the Mercedes-Benz SL series. It’s the car you imagine yourself zipping along the Pacific Coast Highway in, top down and neck scarf floating in the wind behind you, clinging to the road’s curves like a pro, without a care in the world. These sleek, bullet shaped coupes represent the best of Mercedes style, design and performance and have been the ultimate reward for half a century.
For 2022, this legend isn’t satisfied to simply update its look and features. The Mercedes-AMG SL arrives completely re-invented with luxurious modern tech, yet retains the sporty soul of the legendary first generation SL. While the distinctive spirit of the original roadster is still in tact generations later, its housed in a brand new body – not one element was adopted from the predecessor. Mercedes calls it a re-birth, but it’s more of a re-iconization. While the newborn has been named, it has yet to be priced, but we expect the Mercedes-AMG SL will range in the low to mid $100k’s (we will update with pricing when it becomes available).
Getting up to speed: a condensed history of icon-birthing
Born in 1952, the Mercedes 300 SL debuted on the racetrack, quickly outpacing other sports cars of its time. In 1954, the 300 SL production sports car hit the scene with its notable gullwing doors, later earning recognition as the “Sports Car of the Century.” From 1963-1971, the R107 earned iconic recognition for its distinctive “pagoda” style roofline. 1971 saw the emergence of the long-standing R 107, debuting an 8-cylinder engine and holding the brand record for 18 years in production. Then in 1989 came the automotive sculpture of the R 129, setting new standards in safety with a pop-up rollover bar. Every generation has a favorite SL, all worthy of collecting.
Now it’s time to make room in that garage for the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL. But be sure to let it out often because even as beautiful as it is, it’s way more fun to drive than to look at.
Noteworthy features set the Mercedes-AMG SL uniquely apart
The AMG SL is offered in two models for 2022, the SL 55 and SL 63. Each feature a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V-8 twin turbo engine and a standard fully variable 4MATIC + all-wheel drive system. The soft convertible top (no hard tops here) covers a versatile 2+2 seating configuration set in a unique architectural frame of lightweight composite aluminum. Also standard is the MBUX multimedia system with AMG-specific information that allows you to customize your display.
Feeling the need for speed? Set the mode to AMG Track Pace for a one-of-a-kind cockpit experience to match the thrill of track driving. While it’s fun to try, it’s really a bit much for the average driver, who will find enough power and performance in Sport mode to still feel the rush of wind through your hair and the grip of the wheels on the pavement.
2+2 seating? Yes, you read that right- there are seats for 4. For over 30 years, the roadster has been a compact two-seater. While the added back seats are less than ideal for any passengers over 5 feet tall, the space greatly contributes to day to day suitability. From luggage to groceries, to very happy canines, the extra space provides more versatility without any sacrifice of power and performance. Ultimately the Mercedes-AMG SL design is centered around providing optimal comfort and pleasure for the driver behind the wheel, and in that regard, it excels.
What’s old is new again, in the best way
The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL was designed from scratch with the mission of blending a visually aesthetic nod to its roots while still appearing remarkably futuristic.
The result? An aerodynamic form that is unmistakably Mercedes-Benz, with a long wheelbase, long hood, and an AMG-specific vertical stripe grille. With the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL comes the return of the classic soft top, but with a weight-saving Z-fold, eliminating the need for a compartment cover. The top down operation is electric, a process that takes about 15 seconds to open or close fully, and can be performed while in motion up to 45 mph. A multimedia touchscreen displays the animated progression.
The lighter-weight soft top and aluminum composite frame set on a longer wheel base allows for a lower center of gravity, ideal for sporty performance maneuvering. Accelerate, brake, and take those turns with confidence; the SL is beautifully responsive, with safety features that remove the worry and restore the joy of driving for driving’s sake.
One more thing that’s old but new again – remember the neck scarves they wore in the early convertible roadsters? Well, Mercedes-AMG has a “neck scarf” in a completely futuristic way: neck-level heating vents in both driver and passenger seats blow warm air on front seat passengers necks, prolonging the top down season. It really doesn’t get much more tech-luxe glamorous than an “AirScarf.”
What’s new is new again, too
For the first time in its history, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL introduces an all wheel drive system completely designed by AMG. AWD gives sports cars more road grip, allowing them to hug every curve more tightly as well as giving them more capability in challenging weather. And rear-axle steering, which also debuts as a standard feature the AMG SL models, gives the car tighter turning capability for an even more grip on each curve.
Both models, the SL55 and SL63, come equipped with AMG Performance 4Matic+ AWD as standard. Multi-link axles at both front and rear mean you get optimal traction for any type of driving. The six AMG dynamic select driving modes, standard on the SL63 and an option on the SL55 are: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual and RACE and are standard for the SL63.
What’s the difference between the models?
Here’s how the two models compare in basic facts and figures:
- 469 horsepower
- 516 lbs torque
- 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds
- 577 horsepower
- 590 lbs torque
- 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds
The numbers aren’t everything, though, and Mercedes-Benz knows it; it becomes clear you when you compare them back to back. Of course there are enthusiasts who will settle for none other than the super powerful racy SL63. But honestly, the SL55 feels every bit as sporty and still kept my heart pumping and adrenaline spiking. In fact, after driving first the SL63, I wasn’t really smitten until I got behind the wheel of the SL55 – it just felt more familiar, comfortable, practical, and somehow more luxurious. It’s more like a car I would drive every day and in any condition, while the novelty of the enhanced SL63 might quickly wear off. And that .3 of a second of added speed? It would be rarely achieved, if at all.
Joy in the everyday delights
My greatest joy came from the simple act of changing lanes (smooth, responsive, precise), and my greatest thrill was taking the turns on mountain roads and at street corners alike. Finally, as we set off down a very foggy Pacific Coast Highway, the Airscarf feature won me over, because top-down is really the only way to roll in this gem!
Disclosure: I was a guest of Mercedes-Benz for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.