The legendary SL from Mercedes-AMG
Tynan Motors - 28th September 2022
It’s back. With a vengeance. The immediate sense of the new edition of the Mercedes-AMG SL is that it marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. A new era for the model series and the performance and sports car brand that will be home to this iconic vehicle from now on.
The new SL has even stronger roots to the origins of the Mercedes-Benz legend than those of its predecessors. At the same time, it is a new way into the future. “The Star is Reborn”: the new SL’s motto heralds a rebirth that makes the pioneering and oldest Mercedes-Benz model series sportier, more luxurious and more appealing than ever before.
An icon of the 20th century
But first, let’s take a brief look at the history of the SL. In June 1952, during the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race management at the time decided to revolutionise the doors of their SL. This bold decision led to the birth of the legendary “gullwing” doors – and was rewarded with a double victory at the French endurance race. Only two months later, a quadruple victory followed at an Eifel race on the Nürburgring.
In 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced the production model, the 300 SL Gullwing, and made history again. Production was limited to just 1,400 vehicles, which today fetch sale prices of more than one million euros (about AUD $1.46 million).
Some consider the SL to be the most important sports car icon of the 20th century, not least because of the passion with which this vehicle reflects its era. It wasn’t just its prowess on the racetrack: soon after the SL took the motorsport world by storm, the production version was capturing the hearts of Hollywood stars and celebrities and was often spotted along the coastal roads of the Côte d'Azur.
From the 1960s, the “Pagoda”, as it became known, set the course for the future of the SL in the following decades: the vehicle retained its sportiness and the series also became a pioneer for new Mercedes-Benz technologies. For example, the first mass-produced all-aluminium body made its debut in the SL in 2012, saving a remarkable 140 kilograms in weight.
Dynamic and luxurious
Officially, the ‘SL’ acronym stands for ‘super light’, but it can also be adapted to ‘super luxurious’, particularly for the latest model. The vehicle architecture is supported by a state-of-the-art aluminium space frame.
For set designer Kasia Bodziak-Schwarzburger, who puts the latest version of this icon in a particularly expressionist light for our photo spread, it feels like the most natural thing in the world to soar into a new dimension with the SL.
“The Mercedes SL is certainly the blueprint for any sports car,” she says. “It immediately conjures up images of an arrow-quick red convertible. In contrasting colours, it whizzes through zig-zag roads through retro rust-coloured hills. In my mind, a classy woman is at the wheel, wearing large sunglasses and a long scarf around her head which catches the wind and swirls out of the car.”
“It was important to me to take up all the elegance of the tradition that the SL brings with it as a running theme, at the same time progressively interpreting this for the new edition in keeping with the spirit of the times. The atmosphere surrounding the car should be like the product itself: light and dynamic.”
Bodziak-Schwarzburger used a dichroic film for her sculptural set design. This is a technologically sophisticated material, which is increasingly being used in modern architecture.
“We gave the film a new, unexpected shape for the Mercedes-AMG SL, lifted it out of its usual dimensions and played with reflections to achieve a futuristic effect,” she says. “The result is an aura that expands the object, filling the room. It is both transparent and mirrored, depending on the incidence of light – combining lightness and a certain sleekness. Attributes that also neatly sum up the SL.”
The designer’s unorthodox perspective on the vehicle once again brings the point home: the Mercedes-AMG SL represents the future. The sports car icon now comes entirely under the Mercedes-AMG flag, strengthening the vehicle’s sporty character.
But above all, the designers and engineers have readjusted the core DNA of the SL so perfectly that you quickly get the sense: this SL generation seems more assured and clearer than it has been in a long time. Just as it was embedded in its original genes, the new SL is a unique sports car.
The heart: behind the star on the AMG-specific radiator grille is a strong 585-horsepower AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine. The power of the top-of-the-range SL 63 4MATIC+ model is transferred by the sporty AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9 transmission. For the first time in its 70-year history, the roadster has all-wheel drive.
The result: maximum driving exhilaration and optimal suitability for everyday use. This is how a sports car should feel, look and drive. As with the first SL from 1952, the development of the new SL literally started with a blank sheet of paper. The 2021 SL is based on a completely new 2+2-seater vehicle architecture developed by Mercedes-AMG.
Constructed in lightweight composite aluminium, the chassis consists of an aluminium space frame with a self-supporting structure. This design guarantees maximum rigidity and creates the perfect basis for precise driving dynamics, a high level of comfort and sporty proportions. This way, the SL 63 4MATIC+ accelerates to 100 km/h in a breath-taking 3.6 seconds on 20-inch AMG 5-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels and can reach a top speed of 315 km/h.
Mercedes-Benz Group AG chief design officer Gordon Wagener wants to return glamour to the model series with the Mercedes-AMG SL. “I’m a huge fan of the [original] 300 SL Gullwing,” he says. “With the new SL, we have created a repositioning of the iconic SL design.”
Mindful of the Mercedes-Benz vision, he continues: “The expressive exterior gives off a light, puristic impression, perfectly harmonising sensual beauty with extravagant design.”
This is achieved through sensually clear, reduced lines and effectively placed elements such as the AMG-specific radiator grille. You can sense the SL blueprint in the new vehicle design. Historical references and high-tech details reinforce the close ties to the brand’s earliest models and emphasise the future-oriented nature of the vehicle.
And that is exactly what the new Mercedes-AMG SL is: a sports car icon of the 20th century and now the 21st century. “The new model combines the sporty genes of the original SL with the driving performance AMG is renowned for. At the same time, it offers the pinnacle of luxury and comfort. This combination is also reflected in the interior – where the highest levels of comfort and quality meet the ideal level of sportiness. The high-quality combination of the analogue world and state-of-the-art digital equipment makes it clear that the new SL is the rebirth of an icon for the modern era,” says Philipp Schiemer, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
As soon as you sit in the vehicle, one thing very quickly becomes clear: the 300 SL was an inspiring force for the design here too. The designers created a mix of analogue geometry and digital world for the new edition of the icon – the buzzword: “hyper-analogue”.
From sporty-dynamic to elegant luxury: Mercedes-AMG offers an impressive range of customisation options in the interior. Various exterior design packages are available, further sharpening the elegance and dynamism of the look. At the same time, the navigation system features augmented reality functions; its technology guided by a computer-assisted assessment that adds virtual aspects to the real world. The high-quality fabric soft top can be elegantly stowed in the rear of the vehicle in just 15 seconds and at speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour, giving occupants the full intensity of the ride.
A high-performance E PERFORMANCE Hybrid variant of the SL is already in planning. And the anticipation is already electrifying.
The Mercedes-AMG SL is not yet available in Australia but to stay updated on the latest news for the Mercedes-AMG SL, contact Tynan Motors on (02) 8545 8300.