First, there was Thick fog. Then there was the snow. But inclement weather cannot dampen AMG iterations of the flagship Mercedes EV or the latest generation SL.
Performance, luxury, comfort and technology hit the mark even as the AMG team gets their hands on the Mercedes EQS and the latest SL Roadster.
At its core, the 2022 Mercedes AMG SL Roadster still has the glimmer of spirit that covered the original 300 SL Roadster introduced in the late 1950s. Where that car was the top-down mode of transportation for the elite of Hollywood’s golden age, it’s easy to imagine Clooney, Meryn, and Run the Jewel’s Killer Mike rolling into an event behind the wheel of their latest convertible.
And while the Bondish AMG SL Roadster has its roots in the last century, the AMG EQS is the Ironman. It’s all about all the technology used today to achieve a goal – while doing it like the Roadster – in style.
The AMG SL Roadster and AMG EQS are new vehicles, and while they share much of the same technology at their core, there is a stark difference.
The SL’s roar is replaced in the EQS by a made-up group of sounds. The EQS features instant EV torque, and the SL’s impressive displacement and turbines don’t match the EVs’ firing capabilities.
Mercedes will be making handcrafted engines for its AMG lineup to the bitter end. There is no handcrafted electric motor in the AMG EQS. The technician’s signature will not appear on the battery pack. Meanwhile, the amount of dirt thrown into the air by an EQS is just a fraction of what a V8 Roadster will put into our atmosphere over its lifetime.
2022 Mercedes AMG EQS
There is a concern about a car that is designed to be luxury – first it can be damaged a little by receiving the performance treatment. If the main purpose of the sedan is to pamper the driver and passengers, tighten the ride and remap the accelerator so that every small click produces a neck snap, then it no longer really achieves its goal.
EQS lovers who also want to go faster, relax. This did not happen here. The AMG EQS – the first electric AMG to land in the US – masterfully combines the greatness of a luxury electric sedan with some tuning by the AMG team.
With a boost of 751 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque (a jump of 133 horsepower and 69 pound-feet of torque over the EQS580), the luxury electric sedan feels faster than its non-AMG counterpart. Internal injury to your spine 3.4 seconds from zero to 60 faster.
Not only were the two electric motors upgraded. Adjustments to the cooling system, wiring and battery management system also allow the 107.8 kWh package in the AMG variant of the vehicle in Sport and Sport Plus modes to stay at peak performance for longer. Driving from Palm Springs to Los Angeles, I never felt a loss of power after multiple acceleration tests.
This increase also comes with new sounds paired with the car’s acceleration called the AMG Sound Experience. I admire the noise of these electric vehicles. While artificial, it recreates the sonic experience of sudden explosions of speed.
The increased power is combined with the AMG Ride Control air suspension with active dampers. Enjoy the 4Matic+ all-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering system up to nine degrees and attacking hairpin turns quickly, a controlled and impressive experience given the car’s size and weight. There are some body rolls, but it’s a lot less than what I’ve experienced in a regular EQS.
In addition to all the hardware and software tweaks and the new Sport Plus, there’s another new mode that will get lucky, and I was able to test it out. As we were climbing higher mountains while driving, and the road turned from black to grey, to snow-covered white, I was able to use the AMG Slippery mode. Which worked great in snow and ice and any loss of traction was short-lived and likely the result of the AMG EQS rolling on Michelin Pilot Sport EV summer tyres.
In choosing the wheels for this driving program, it was clear that Mercedes was expecting dry roads and if the weather wasn’t sunny, then at least it was expecting dry weather. Mother Nature had other plans. With winter or even all-season rubber, the AMG EQS could have made even those worried about driving on frozen water a lot easier.
Inside, other than a little AMG burgeoning here and there, it’s the same EQS with the latest MBUX infotainment system and a massive 56-inch Hyperscreen that includes a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, a 17.7-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch passenger display. All are standard on AMG models. The screen also includes the Zero Layer interface, which presents a map with widgets of features that appear as needed.
The jewel in the crown MBUX – the voice assistant – continues to evolve. “Hey Mercedes” along with the Zero Layer interface is the primary standard for what other automakers should strive to achieve in the car. Powerful voice-powered navigation along with a more focused screen.
On more than a few occasions, I’ve realized that instead of looking for a feature, I’ve been asking the car to do what I want. Other elements, such as the media controls that Mercedes of the previous generation required multiple clicks to skip to the next song, were easily rendered in the Zero Layer interface that hovered over the navigation.
As with the SL Roadster, the combination of voice assistant and Zero Layer improves the infotainment experience although I’m still puzzled as to why Mercedes made the screen so wide that it was actually blocked by the steering wheel. Sure, they moved all the gadgets, but it’s still a strange decision beyond being able to say, “Hey, look at the size of this screen.”
2022 Mercedes AMG SL
While the luxury-performance balance errs on the side of speed and control thanks to the 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque in the AMG SL 63 variant, even at slow speeds (thanks to the aforementioned fog), the AMG SL offers a rich top-to-bottom experience. .
Mercedes will sell two versions of the car, the AMG SL 55 Roadster with 469 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque and the more powerful 63 variant mentioned above. Both are equipped with the automaker’s proprietary 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system powered by hand-built 4.0-liter V8 Biturbo engines.
The result of all this displacement along with the turbines is an impressive, well-mannered powerhouse that reacts instantly either from a stop or while passing slow vehicles. The AMG SL 63 may be the more powerful car, but the AMG SL 55 is probably the best option since there are very few situations where all that extra horsepower and torque can be used.
It’s also the least powerful SL Roadster you can buy of this generation. Mercedes has no plans to release a non-performance version of the Roadster. Instead, as with all other Mercedes, it was decided to make sure that this car, when not blasting through the canyons, is as smooth and luxurious as any other Mercedes. During my tests, I can say they are about 85% there.
On everyday suburban and urban roads, the AMG SL Roadster offers an almost glass ride, but its performance underpinnings are a nice reminder that this isn’t an S-Class. You’ll feel some bumps, holes and cracks in the road. The bright side of that was the impressive handling that even on rainy roads kept the wheels firmly attached to the asphalt with minimal roll that only appeared when the car really pushed. Steering is tight and responsive without feeling jittery, and the inclusion of the rear steering wheel creates the impression of a smaller vehicle both on the back roads and while cruising around town.
Inside, Mercedes has also equipped the SL with the latest version of the MBUX infotainment system with a Zero Layer option. As an added bonus, due to the potential for sun glare, the 11.9-inch touchscreen can be tilted back and forth from 12 to 32 degrees. Sun reflections are also why the 12.3-inch dashboard has an integrated visor. Unfortunately neither was needed during my cloudy and misty drive.
With the SL Roadster, Mercedes has built a proper convertible sports car packed with its latest technology. Neither side of the car, performance and technology are incompatible with the other. It is a symbiotic relationship. Basically, it’s James Bond cars. A nod to the past with the wild side already ready with the latest tool to get the job done while wearing a tuxedo.
After driving the AMG EQS and SL back for two days, it’s interesting to see the start of the AMG transition. Mercedes’ performance arm, like the automaker itself, is poised to be fully electric by 2030.
Most notably thinking ahead, I drove the first generation SL 300 Roadster. At the time of its launch, it was like something from outer space. At some point in the near future, the automaker may introduce another AMG SL, and if Mercedes continues to improve its EV technologies at the pace it does now, it will likely be groundbreaking and electric.
Also, you will have no problem driving on ice even with a top-down presence.