A legacy that dates all the way back to the original 300SL Gullwing, the 2022 SL marks a complete redesign of a beloved sports car that traces its roots back to 1952. With some calling it the lovechild of a C-Class cabriolet and an AMG GT roadster, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL is an automotive icon in itself.
The new SL is the first such car engineered from start to finish by Mercedes’ AMG performance arm. These particular engineering roots give it credibility since the first-generation 300SL that was derived from a race car.
It rides on an aluminum intensive platform that could be one of the last ones Mercedes makes for its ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars. It marks three important changes from its last generation model
- cloth top
- standard all-wheel-drive
- rear seat
Performance: Drive and Structure
The crew at AMG gave the SL a variety of standard and optional performance goodies. All this starts under the, rather long and low hood, where the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 comes in with two options and tunes: Powerful and Boisterous.
Considering these two options, the SL 55 V-8 hogs 16.0 psi of boost, whereas the SL 63 (the maxed out top end model) huffs down 22.5 psi. Both these V-8 engines deliver absolute performance and are each modified for use in their respective SLs with a new oil pan, new intake and exhaust ducts, and repositioned intercoolers.
Mercedes’ 4.0-litre V-8 is quite spectacular and the 9-speed is real big boy fun.
Letting off in either of the following- Sport, Sport+, or Track modes, makes F1-style pops and crackles which induce giggles and loads of fun laughter in the grumpiest of adults, bringing out the lost child in everyone.
245/40 and 295/35 tires on 20-inch wheels are standard here. The SL sends its power to these tires via a 9-speed wet-clutch dual-clutch automatic.
Such sheer power makes the car go from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds (this is for the SL 55).
The SL 63 uses the same driveline hardware to slay the 0-60 mph run in 3.4 seconds.
The power stays on the boil, pushing the SL 63 and topping it out at 196 mph. (disclaimer- if you do this with the top down, you are sure to get a condition of racing hair but don’t worry, it’s treatable).
The SL 55 tops out at 183 mph.
The new structure of the car is actually stiff in a good way and Mercedes put in some pretty cool and advanced suspension technology here. Referred to as the MSA (Modular Sports Architecture), It is an exclusive platform also used in the SL that features space construction which relies on a mix of aluminium, magnesium, steel, and fibre composites to make the new body shell stiff and light.
This particularly advanced setup pulls the inside tire up when the outside tire is compressed through the flow of hydraulic fluid to keep the body level. It works quickly and effectively, giving the SL the flat cornering of a sports car. AMG engineers chose it for that and to save weight versus those other systems as well. Mercedes compensates for the SL’s additional length by making the rear-axle steering standard. It can turn the rear wheels counter to the fronts up to 2.5 degrees to virtually lengthen the wheelbase in sharp corners.
The linked hydraulic dampers work at the opposite end of the spectrum, loosening up during straight-line driving for a more comfortable ride. Active engine mounts, standard in the SL 63 and optional in the SL 55, do the same. Their magnetic fluid loosens up while cruising for a softer ride and firms up in corners to better prevent the engine from adding to the lateral inertia, which ultimately results in much quicker reactions. The new SL may perform better than the car it replaces, but it’s still smooth enough for comfortable everyday use.
The Superficial View
In spite of a wheelbase that is 4.6 mm longer due to the added rear seat, the new structure has 18 per cent more structural rigidity, and 50% more rigidity in terms of bending when put up against the AMG GT roadster. Lightweight coil springs and adaptive dampers are standard for the SL, but rather than air springs or active anti-roll bars to fight body lean, the SL 63 uses a hydraulic suspension that’s linked at all four corners.
Stiffer and with more advanced suspension technology and the ability to tune it for performance or comfort, according to many, the 2022 Mercedes SL is a more capable and better handling car than the fast but soft SLs of recent years.
Some of the SL’s dynamic strengths show through when tested in adverse conditions.
An Electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering with rack and pinion, with a steering ratio of 12.8:1, makes the SL quick and weighty, direct through the chunky, small-diameter steering wheel. Such quick turn-in is met by flat cornering and incredible body control enabled by the hydraulic dampers and double-wishbone front and rear suspensions. All of these conspire together to maintain a large contact patch corners. The rear end follows along quickly, with reactions made sharper by the rear-axle steering that steers opposite of the fronts up to 62 mph. This particular feature is termed to be really useful for track driving.
The Pilot’s View
The interior of the car boasts of a lot of technological advancements and involvements.
It blends perfectly with the traditional SL themes of performance and luxury whilst giving a slight and soft nod to the original 300SL with its minimalist look.
A 12.3-inch digital screen serves as the instrument cluster. This particular screen features a special visor to prevent reflections caused by sunlight which is a must for driving with the top down. The SL offers several display themes such as Understated, Classic, Sport, Supersport, and Track Pace with a whole range of layouts from minimalistic that show only the immediate range of speed and torque with the speedometer and tachometer to truly extensive on-board telemetry for track drives/races.
An 11.9-inch portrait-style touchscreen sits in the centre console as the main hub for infotainment. It tilts from a standard 32 degrees, which provides the most comfortable view to a far more upright 12 degrees to avoid reflections caused by sunlight.
Another cool thing is that the SL uses augmented reality to overlay arrows for navigational purposes. A heads-up display is standard in the SL 63 and optional in the SL 55.
All of this might seem difficult to monitor but it’s not. Sitting low in the coddling and supportive base sport seats or the even sportier optional seats, everything is available at a glance. These seats also offer the much-needed additional pampering of heating, cooling, and massage.
Intense battle with cold? The SL has got you covered here too with the standard Air Scarf neck-level heating.
For the fun part and also to show value for money to it’s buyers, Mercedes loads up the SL with amenities such as soft nappa leather, a Burmester surround sound audio system, and a surround-view camera system, along with a full range of standard and optional active safety features. The three-layer top blocks out most wind and road noise and the fully automated roof takes just up to 15 seconds to raise or lower, a process that can be done while traveling at speeds of up to 37 mph.
The reimagined SL offers enough sportiness to be an AMG and enough comfort to be a Benz, proving to be a near-perfect blend of both worlds whilst attracting more serious enthusiasts who have a thing for this classic right since ’52.