Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Pass us the keys to the new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL please, so we can blow through Newport Beach in a breeze. And that’s precisely what the team from Automotive Rhythms did on the press unveiling of the iconic SL, which has been entertaining enthusiasts since its inception in 1952. Born and bred on the racetrack, the SL was one of the fastest of its time and became the blueprint for two production models dubbed the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Roadster.
Moving toward a streamlined luxury line, there will be no base SL model since the brand is only producing this AMG variant. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz is discontinuing the S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet in favor of the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL. A few historical points of reference include design elements from prior generations into the current generation, such as the rounded rear of the 300SL, similar grille from the 1952 SL racecar, and the 2+2 seating concept borrowed from the R 129, one of the most successful SL iterations.
Feeling like F1 racing GOAT Sir Lewis Hamilton, it was “go time” at the international media launch in California as I first experienced the Mercedes-AMG SL 63. The SL returns with a lightweight electric soft-top, first-time-ever AMG Performance 4MATIC AWD, a 2+2 seating concept, and AMG’s handcrafted “One Man, One Engine” 4-liter V8 Biturbo pushing 585-horsepower for a 0 to 60 mph sprint time of 3.5 seconds. The luxurious performance convertible is built entirely by AMG, a first for this model. It features Active Rear-Axle Steering, updated MBUX infotainment with an adjustable 11.9″ screen, and of course AMG high-performance composite braking to halt the German machine from hyper speeds. The Patagonia Red Metallic was my preferred choice. On the other hand, the Mercedes-AMG SL 55 produces 476-horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque for 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. Both pair to the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9G Transmission (Multi-Clutch) with a RACE START function.
“The SL is an icon: For almost 70 years, the distinctive sports car has delighted Mercedes customers of every generation around the world,” stated Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG. “With the rebirth of the roadster from Mercedes-AMG, the new SL more than ever remains the symbol of this timeless fascination.”
Whether you go with a 63 or 55, both are emotionally appealing and offer superior acceleration, braking, and steering. Of course, you receive more performance in the 63 and those magnetic Yellow Brake Calipers, but I didn’t feel too much drop-off between the two. Two unique brake systems include the cast steel as standard or AMG High-Performance Composite Braking as an option. Innovative architecture, a lightweight composite aluminum chassis, increased rigidity by 18%, and an active rear spoiler that is adjustable in five positions depending on your speed add to the elevation of the new SL. Similar to supercars, the SL receives Front Axle Lift, which raises the front fascia 1.2” for steep approaches.
On the curvy mountain roads en route to Palm Springs, the vehicle rounded corners at high speeds in a balanced manner thanks to its AMG Active Ride Control suspension that literally took control of handling with its active hydraulic features that compensate for body roll in milliseconds. Additionally, the electronically controlled limited-slip rear differential provides ultimate traction and safety in various road conditions. A suite of six driving modes is available from AMG DYNAMIC SELECT to customize the feel of the SL, whether cruising or balling out. Choose between Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual, and RACE mode. RACE is a standard feature on the SL 63, and for the SL 55 it is included in the optional AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package.
Aesthetically, the SL features a three-layer fabric soft-top with the equivalent noise level of the prior hardtop but is also 46 lbs lighter. A Z-fold space-saving technique allows more storage for the trunk. Owners can close or open the top in 15 seconds and up to 37 mph. Though, I still prefer the styling of a hardtop because it doesn’t take away from the flowing silhouette.
Step inside the roadster for an oasis of comfort, innovation, and superior craftsmanship that will undoubtedly tap into your senses. The German sanctuary features a 12.3” Digital Instrument Cluster and an 11.9” Touchscreen Center Display that can be adjusted 12 to 32 degrees. Infotainment is provided by an updated MBUX Navigation system with Voice Control, Natural Language Understanding, and Keyword Activation (“Hey Mercedes”). Carbon fiber interior trim is beautiful, the seats are comfortable but ready for action, and an AIRSCARF neck-level heater is perfect for chilly morning starts when you want the top down.
The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL goes on sale in the first half of 2022. The AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package and AMG Aerodynamics Package are available with the Performance Line for exclusivity. Furthermore, to coincide with the launch date, a new collection of high-quality leather goods under the established “Santoni for AMG” label will become available to pair with your vehicle. The Italian manufacturer will present a tailor-made 3-piece luggage set (beauty case, a backpack, and a weekender) to fit in the boot perfectly. The lifestyle set is available at www.santoniforamg.com.