Taking a quick swipe on the Porsche 911

Mercedes-Benz amg sl class 2022 sl63 red

Will Sabil Courtney

Believe it or not, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class used to be a bit of a beast. Although it had spent the past few decades as a Boulevard with a reputation of being a favorite of beginners and real housewives, when it was launched in 1954, it did so as a legitimate version of the race car – a car that had just claimed victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Nurburgring. The 300 SL Gullwing Dynamo was a sports car for its era, but it was the version to follow in 1957 that would be the true predecessor of the SL breed: a nice-looking convertible with a large three-dot star on the front.

So here in 2022, Mercedes is giving the SL-Class a chance to relive its past glories – or at least restore some of its sports car goodwill. The all-new model, codenamed R232, is larger than the previous version, but its narrow dimensions make it look smaller than it is — and most importantly, make it appear faster. That aligns well with all the other transformations Mercedes has made with the new model – modifications to the SL-Class’ philosophy designed to make it more appealing to people who buy convertibles to drive as fun as they can be seen.

How does this change in attitudes affect the real world? I hopped into a 2022 Mercedes AMG SL63 for a long day of driving and riding through Southern California to find out.

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Is the new Mercedes-AMG SL-Class 2022?

From tip to tail. Design, engines, gearbox, interior – everything is new. It’s not necessarily new to anyone familiar with Mercedes’ current range of cars, of course; Many of the updates simply involve bringing the SL into a fresh 2022, as the previous model is still packed with a great deal of style, technology and engineering dating back to its origins more than a decade ago.

However, some things are 100 percent fresh. Mercedes has made an entirely new aluminum-composite body frame for the new SL, which – in a modified form, of course – will be the basis for the next generation of AMG GT sports cars. It’s probably one of the latest new car designs Mercedes will ever develop around internal combustion vehicles, so, you can enjoy it as long as it lasts.

What makes the 2022 SL-Class different?

Well, for starters, it only comes in AMG form, unlike previous versions. The 2022 SL was actually developed by AMG, just like the GT cars. It only comes in V8-powered variants (at least for now; the AMG SL53 six-cylinder seems inevitable) and, for the first time for an SL, it comes with all-wheel drive. Actually it is Just It comes with all-wheel drive – it is better to take advantage of the enormous power emitted by the engine crank.

Unlike the last two generations of the SL, the 2022 model foregoes the retractable hardtop, instead with a retractable softtop that fires in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 37 mph. As with many other convertibles that have replaced the fold-out hoods for fabric-coated ones, credit for impressive improvements in stability and sound handling in recent years; With the top, today’s best soft-tops are just as quiet as hard-top cars.

(Pro soft tip: While it may seem that you have to use the infotainment screen to raise or lower it, you can also do so just by pressing the actual button that takes you to that menu.)

Despite its AMG roots, Mercedes knows there are still plenty of people who want to use their new SLs as much as they did the old — to cruise down Rodeo Drive and Highway 1, not attack the narrow back roads. The box is spacious enough to neatly pack two golf bags, and the two extra seats are suitable for carry-on luggage for two people;

What does the Mercedes-AMG SL-Class driving look like?

If you like to drive, well, this new SL is the best edition since the first. (By today’s standards, of course; comparing a sports car from 1957 to a brand-new one for 2022 is like comparing submarines from World War I and the Cold War.) Granted, it’s not a solid race car. For the street it’s not just a fun and fast open-top sports car.

Not surprisingly, the force is exhilarating. AMG may have started switching to electric, but it hasn’t given up yet in a V8, and the 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit in the SL class is a fine example of the breed. Toe in the gas, and he snarls and snarls and goes—not too boisterous, just effortless and endless. The power surge that comes anywhere from half the throttle to the floorboard is scary—especially with the acceleration from top to bottom and the wind seemingly picking up exponentially. Even with launch control, the SL63 doesn’t necessarily feel like a blast — it certainly still feels like a car with the right amount of mass — but once it starts to rip, it’s go and go.

As in the E63 S, having a V8 powerhouse paired with the AWD system means you can get more out of it. (Unfortunately, there is no Drift mode as in the E; when I asked the Mercedes product chart about it, it said it didn’t fit the character of the SL.) However, all that power means that the car’s computers have to constantly be on to determine how much juice to get It must reach the wheels; This is a car with a lot of power and a lot of gears, so it always tries to control all that power, especially at low speeds. In all honesty, she felt more comfortable in her skin with the ESP in Sport mode. This is true of many powerful cars – and requires an extra level of care when driving.

So it’s fast as hell, you might think. Big surprise there. How is it in turns?

Well, it’s pretty good, but it’s not great enough to beat the best. Compared to the likes of the Porsche 911—and, believe me, many people will compare this new SL to the 911—the steering feels more numb, and offers a lot less feel and straightforwardness. But this is a first impression. After an hour or two, you don’t think about it much, and odds are good you won’t think much of it at all after a few weeks.

It also takes some time to get used to the standard rear-wheel steering – especially in tight low-speed corners, as it really raises the line and forces you to reset your expectations of where the car is going. It certainly contributes to the agility of the car. Indeed, in terms of sordid handling, it is indisputable how capable this car is. The SL benefits from active hydraulic stabilizers in place of traditional anti-yaw bars, active torque redistribution between the front and rear axles, a five-link multi-link front axle entirely within the rim, and a host of other great handling technologies.

Bottom line, there’s no dispute that it’s full of cornering fun — and capable of ripping through it faster than probably any SL in history alongside the batshit SL65 Black Series from the past.

What does the new Mercedes-AMG SL-Class look like inside?

bewitching. Mercedes interiors have always been great, of course, but the past few years have seen new languages ​​and design forms emerge in the interior. Sleek curves and wraparound lines have made their way inside, lending a more exotic and natural feel to the cabin than the older models.

Slide into the driver’s seat, and once you fiddle with the seat controls (slightly lower than the old ones, which actually moved when pressed), you’ll find a good sitting position, with all the controls falling easily within easy reach. As in many sports cars these days, long-legged people will want to push the seat back to prevent the long side bolsters from digging into your thighs, but other than that, the seats are very comfortable even for SL owners who drive long distances. I dream about taking all the time but usually you end up using other Benz cars.

It’s surprisingly spacious too. It’s not a replacement for the dearly departed S-Class convertible, but the rear seats are large enough that they can fit four smaller people in the car at once. (Other journalists while driving were able to accommodate a six-foot-three man in the second row behind a five-foot-three driver.) However, most people would probably prefer to use as much of the front seat space as possible and leave the second row for extra storage space perhaps for a child seat if you can squeeze it in there.

The biggest and most obvious change is the infotainment system – the same iPad Pro-sized tablet found in the new S-Class. There, she fits in with the stately and spacious nature of the interior; In the SL, it dominates the compact cabin like a TV too big for a living room or Karen Gillen in a group photo of the MCU pioneers. It’s so big, it’s almost blocking some of the air vents, which made me wonder if the design team had forced an IMAX infotainment system on them late in the game.

However, it is at least fit to be a good infotainment system. The screen is crystal clear and responds to inputs instantaneously, while the user interface – which seems dense at first – becomes intuitive after a day or so of us, with well-sized “buttons” for most tasks and a futuristic look that feels befitting of a new six-digit price tag. And thanks to a set of dedicated touch controls on the four levers of the steering wheel, you likely won’t have to wade through the screen as much while driving.

What does the Mercedes-AMG SL-Class compete with?

The most obvious enemy, of course, is the Crosstown competition: the Porsche 911. Anyone shopping for an extra rear two-seater sports convertible is likely to start with these two models, unless they’re willing to spend more for a Bentley Continental GT convertible or a Rolls-Royce Dawn. (Or, on the contrary, they are more economical in thinking and prefer something in a muscle car).

But people don’t just buy cars based on the number of seats, especially in such classes. It looks like the Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is likely to cross versus the new SL, and maybe even the Ferrari Portofino M. At times, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some broken faces at Mercedes-Benz dealers trying to decide between the 2022 SL-Class and AMG GT Roadsters The rest is in stock too.

Mercedes-Benz USA hasn’t released official pricing for the SL55 or SL63 yet, so it’s hard to know exactly how you’ll line up against all of these value-added foes. (The Scuttlebutt at launch had a starting price of $130,000 to $150,000—the lowest price for the SL55, and the highest price for the SL63.) However, six-figure sports car buyers generally don’t shop for the best value proposition; They are interested in which combination of style, comfort and speed suits their tastes best. The 2022 SL looks set to win over a few convertibles who would never have considered buying any of the earlier, softer versions, while still holding onto most of its loyalists. In other words, it feels like a win.

Mercedes-AMG SL Class 2022

base price: To be announced

drivetrain: 4.0 liter twin-turbo V8; Nine-speed automatic all-wheel drive

horse power: 469 (SL55); 577 (SL63)

torque: 516 lb (SL55); 590 lb-ft (SL63)

EPA fuel economy: To be announced

Seats: Two big people and two small people

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