How Mercedes-Benz is building a sportier SL

Ronan Glon
How Mercedes-Benz is building a sportier SL
Mercedes-Benz is out to ensure the next-generation SL is sportier to drive than today's model. The company has consequently asked AMG, its in-house performance division, to convertible the model from start to finish.

The Mercedes-Benz SL is outstandingly powerful, but it’s been positioned closer to a grand tourer than to a world-class sports car for decades. That’s set to change when the next-generation model arrives, according to a recent report.

Mercedes has asked AMG, its in-house go-fast division, to develop the next SL. The idea is to inject the upcoming model with the DNA needed to make it faster and much more dynamic to drive, according to a company insider who spoke anonymously with British magazine Autocar. The source affirmed that Mercedes’ two-seater convertible will receive huge changes.

The SL will carry on as a two-seater roadster, but it will ride on a brand new platform called modularen sportwagen architektur (MSA), a name that loosely translates to modular sports car architecture. The switch will help the SL shed precious pounds, which will boost both agility and fuel economy. Replacing the current car’s folding metal hard top with a traditional cloth soft top will further reduce weight.

Power will come from a turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six, a brand new engine that’s expected to replace Mercedes’ aging V6 before the end of the year. The unit will generate 365 horsepower in the entry-level SL 300. Next up in the lineup will be the SL 400, which will use an evolution of the six rated at 435 horses. Finally, the SL 500 will receive a de-tuned version of AMG’s ubiquitous twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 rated at about 455 horsepower.

A pair of full-blown AMG models will again round out the lineup. The SL 63 will boast over 500 horsepower thanks to the aforementioned turbo eight, while the SL 65 will return with a mighty, 621-horsepower V12 engine. An automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive will come standard regardless of how many cylinders are under the hood.

Read more: Mercedes-AMG’s next supercar could bring F1 tech to the road

The Mercedes-Benz SL was given a series of updates inside and out for the 2017 model year (pictured), so it’s safe to bet that it will stick around in its current form for at least two more years. That means the eighth-generation model could arrive as either as 2019 or a 2020 model.