Failing to be a mainstream model – especially in France – the Mercedes SL is emblematic in more than one way. Launched for the 1time times in 1954 in its Coupe version with butterfly doors (Gullwing), then discoverable in 1957, the one that responds to the name Sport Leicht (Sport Léger in German) has distinguished itself sufficiently through nearly 70 years of history to deserve its place in the Pantheon of iconic automobiles. Despite an absence of a few months from the Mercedes catalog, the thrilling roadster is not yet ready for beer and makes a comeback in 2022, not without mastering its subject.
Freely inspired by 1is SL, this new version however resumes the 2 + 2 architecture thanks to the return of the soft top, sacrificed in the early 2000s on the altar of sound insulation. Why this turnaround? “Pure emotion” Philipp Schiemer, CEO of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, answers laconically. If it allows save 21 kg compared to the previous hardtop, this canvas also contributes to the pure and harmonious lines of the Mercedes. With its short overhangs and rounded hip drop, it actually evokes the original SL but also the AMG GT which it does not replace.
However, for the 1time Once in the model’s history, its design has been entirely entrusted to the AMG division. The Affalterbach specialists have therefore worked to make this luxury convertible both very sporty and comfortable. With success.
Indeed, the SL is versatile and as such it always cultivates its idea of grand touring without compromise. “It’s a car dedicated to everyday use” insists Jochen Hermann, Technical Director of Mercedes AMG. Unfortunately, we did not have the privilege of tasting life in SL for more than a few hours, during our test. But even at low doses, this newcomer does great things.
The 1time part of our journey, urban and congested, highlights the smoothness and docility of this 2022 vintage SL, despite the optional 21-inch rims. Thanks to 6 driving modes, influencing the throttle response, the flexibility of the damping or the management of 9-speed automatic transmission (MCT 9G) equipped with an oil bath clutch instead of a torque converter, the German can curb the ardor of his V8 4.0 biturbo to move peacefully in the flow of traffic. By customizing the vehicle’s settings, it is even possible to activate the “Sport” mode exclusively for the exhaust, releasing an exuberant sound that flatters the ear and the ego, without abusing the occupants.
1is SL designed by AMG
However, the abundant cavalry stampede, ready to pounce at the first frank request of the accelerator. Under the long front hood of our 63 AMG version houses the in-house 4.0l biturbo V8 delivering 585 horsepower and 800 Nm of torque. The 55 AMG version, provided with the same “deflated” block is also in the range but the French market is deprived of it, for the moment. This mechanism is already at work in the range of vehicles signed AMG but also at Aston Martin. Always very round and available from low revs (2,500 rpm), it offers a frank and linear thrust to the depths of the red zone. The gearbox goes through the gears without any loss of load, orbiting the SL with a click of the paddle at the wheel at speeds far too high for open roads.
Of course, power is not everything and the SL is no exception to the tendency to be overweight. With 1,970 kg in running order, it shows a plump mass well compensated by electronics (we will come back to this a little later) and a drastic hunt for extra pounds. Already, the roadster is based on a brand new platform, lighter than that of the previous SL (- 270 kg) thanks to the use of composite aluminum and magnesium, especially. Better still, its longitudinal rigidity is 40% greater than that of the AMG GT Roadster (which it still does not replace…).
4 wheels driving
Systematically delivered with AMG 4MATIC + all-wheel drive, proven by other sports cars such as the AMG GT 4-door, the SL actually takes the party of grand tourism more than of exacerbated sport. Moreover, unlike other AMG branded models, the roadster skips the drift mode which allows the distribution of torque to be locked to the rear wheels only. Too bad because, for the rest, the systems are very similar with a distribution which can vary, according to the needs, up to 100% between the two axles.
In fast corners, his temperament is therefore relatively neutral and really reassuring. You will have to roll up your sleeves to take this new SL instead! Moreover, composite ceramic braking (optional) is so efficient that it manages to easily stop this generously proportioned convertible for dozens of kilometers driven at full speed.
Side efficiency, the SL amazes by its ability to pass quickly in curve. A feat achieved without the support of a torque converter or anti-roll bar. The AMG Active Ride Control system uses electronically controlled suspensions with active anti-roll and acts independently on the running gear depending on road conditions, speed and steering wheel angle. Add to that the steered rear wheels which swivel parallel to the front wheels. up to 0.7 degrees, over 100 km / h, allowing the SL to swallow laces even more efficiently.
The refinement of the SL
At low speed or at good pace, the SL is savored in a cabin that skilfully combines luxury and technology. Unlike other novelties flanked by the star, the roadster conveys a touch of appreciable traditionalism with for example round and manually adjustable air nozzles (yes, it is still possible), or a central screen of modest size. Moreover, when the hood is open and the sun bathes the cockpit, it is possible to electrically tilt this touch screen with haptic feedback from 12 to 32 degrees to avoid parasitic reflections. Nestled in AMG Performance seats (optional) with perfect support, large rim steering wheel well in hand and hot air flow that caresses the back of the neck, we delight in regretting all the same instrumentation, certainly bloated, but complicated to understand. It took us a long time to figure out how to handle the soft top, via the digital interface. A defect to which customers will certainly get used to spending around € 200,000 to afford this SL capable of turning into an everyday sportswoman.
The ideal synthesis of a sports car and a GT, the new SL is making a winning comeback. In the absence of a V12, the range will soon welcome a hybrid version.
WE love :
- Cornering speeds
- Foolproof versatility
- Sleek design
We like less:
- Complicated interface
- Restricted range in France
Mercedes SL 63 AMG 4MATIC +
Version tested: € 200,000 (estimate)
Average manufacturer consumption / during the test (l / 100 km): 12.7 / 16
CO2/malus : 288/30 000 €
Fiscal power: NC
Country of manufacture: Germany
Gasoline from 476 to 585 hp
Engine: V8 biturbo 4.0 – 3,982 cm3
Transmission: AMG 4MATIC + all-wheel drive – 9-speed automatic
Max power at rpm (hp): 585 to 6500
Max torque at rpm (Nm): 800 to 2,500
Weight (kg): 1 970
Long.xlarg.xhaut. (m) : 4,70×1,91×1,35
Wheelbase (m): 2.70
Tank (l): 70
Max speed (km / h): 315
0 to 100 km / h: 3 ”6
AV-AR standard tires: 265/40 ZR 20 – 295/35 ZR 20
Test tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
Chest at 2 (l): 213
Composite ceramic brakes: (price unknown)
AMG Performance seats: (price unknown)
Porsche 911 GTS Cabriolet, from € 161,618
Ferrari Portofino, from € 195,437
Aston Martin DB11, from 204,700 €
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