The first new Mercedes SL in nearly a decade is around the corner. This time, it won't be a Mercedes-Benz; it was developed by Mercedes-AMG and it will be marketed exclusively by the performance-obsessed sub-brand. It's scheduled to make its global debut online on October 28, and a short preview video published on the firm's social media pages gives enthusiasts one final preview before the big unveiling.
Our first official look at the next SL confirms what spy shots have suggested for months. Visually, the roadster falls perfectly in line with Mercedes-Benz's current design language by adopting a nearly flat front end with sharp headlights and horizontal rear lights integrated into a more rounded rear fascia. While it's difficult to judge a car by a tweet, what we see almost looks like a logical evolution of the GT coupe.
The stage is set. Inspired by our past, we innovate for our future. Light up the future with a new era of SL. Ready to be starstruck?
28.10. at 4pm CEST#DrivingPerformance #MercedesAMG #AMGSpirit #AMG #PerformanceLuxury pic.twitter.com/Fab1D0criM
— Mercedes-AMG (@MercedesAMG) October 27, 2021
Beyond the design, we know that the next SL will be more of a revolution than an evolution. It's ditching the current-generation model's power-folding hard top for a cloth soft top, which is lighter and more compact, and official photos of the interior confirm it's resurrecting the 2+2 seating layout last offered by the C107-generation SLC (which was the fixed-roof version of the R107 SL) in the early 1980s. We're guessing this was partially done to help fill the void left by the S-Class Cabriolet and to avoid overlapping with the two-seater GT Roadster.
For the first time, the SL will be optionally available with permanent all-wheel-drive. This should make the SL a viable year-round driver for a lot of motorists. Rear-wheel-drive will presumably come standard. Mercedes-AMG hasn't released technical specifications yet. We're hoping to see the V8 return (fingers crossed!) and it's reasonable to speculate that more affordable variants will ship with a straight-six engine.
All told, these changes suggest Mercedes-Benz found itself at the same intersection as Chevrolet when it began developing the eighth-generation Corvette. The model's target audience is aging, and luring younger buyers into the fold requires adding some degree of novelty to the recipe. For the folks at Chevy, it was a mid-mounted engine. For those in Stuttgart, it's more practicality and even more performance.
We'll learn more about the next SL (which is called R232 internally) when it makes its debut tomorrow, October 28, at 4 p.m. in Germany. That's 10 a.m. in New York City and 7 a.m. in Los Angeles. The roadster is expected to reach American showrooms as a 2022 model.
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