These are the first spy shots of the Mercedes SL in testing wearing an E-Class body as camo – How do we know? Look at those creepy looking rear doors and roll cage lurking inside.
As the current SL is getting long in the tooth, AMG, the performance division of Mercedes, has been tasked with creating an all-new model for 2022. This is the first time a physical test mule has been spotted.
Under that Frankenstein Monster of an E-Class, sits the origins of the next 2+2 roadster. Look carefully and you'll notice arch extensions bolted to the bodywork, which tells us the track has been widened, and those little canards on the front bumper and aftermarket rear boot lid spoiler suggest that the SL will generate more downforce than this saloon when it reaches production.
The new SL will be sportier than the outgoing model but will still have four seats, unlike the next Mercedes-AMG GT, which will be produced in tandem with this car. The GT will obviously be more performance focussed and less practical than its roadster sibling, giving each its own identity.
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG, told Auto Express that the new SL will feature electrified powertrains, following the new AMG GT 4-door which will arrive as a plug-in hybrid.
Moers said, “Handing over the SL for the next generation to AMG, as a performance and sports car brand, is great, there’s lots of responsibility behind that, maybe honour. It shows that we’re not doing such a bad job!
“This is a programme that’s really intense. The new SL aligned with maybe the next generation of GT – that’s an intense programme. You’re going to see prototypes later this year.”
He went on to say, “The SL in the past was a really important car for us. In 2002/03 when we brought out the V8 Kompressor engine… it was a handful! Driving it today, and I did that just recently, I thought ‘was that our driving dynamics back in the days?’
“I think it’s time to change a little bit the attitude of SL and bring back a bit of the history of this touring DNA of SL; make it sportier, and other things. The key is that we will have the perfect compromise between driving dynamics and comfort because it’s still kind of a cruiser and we know that.”
He said the new SL will be more dynamically focussed as it will only be available as a roadster. “We made things happen that maybe were not achievable if it would not be in our hands – we are always stretching the boundaries.
“If Gorden [Wagener, Mercedes’ Chief Design Officer] comes up with an idea, we always try to make it happen – it’s up to us both to sort it out and find a compromise.”
Moers goes on to explain how Mercedes-AMG has led other Mercedes projects: “We designed everything for the G-Wagen, the whole suspension, axles, everything was done by AMG.
Beyond '21 there will be no car from AMG that will not have an electrified powertrain – hybrid will become more and more important. How can the performance car segment survive in the future if you’re not going to use electrified powertrains? I think the share of high voltage electrified powertrains in the performance segment is higher than in other segments – then we have purely electric sports cars, too.”
The Mercedes-AMG plug-ins will likely boost power constantly, “What we’ll do with our performance hybrids is have a different attitude. We have to make sure our we must have an always-on strategy, it’s a combined situation, we must always have the combustion engine and electric power otherwise the car is not having its full potential.”
It has been inferred that the SL-Class will arrive around 2020 as tradition suggests longer life cycles than other Mercedes models, with the Mercedes-AMG GT expected thereafter.
Now we wait and see what AMG can pull out of their hat.