The Sport Leicht reloaded for the next decade.
An iconic nameplate in Mercedes’ massive portfolio, the “SL” dates back to the year 1954 with the launch of the “Gullwing” W198 coupe, which we reckon is the most beautiful car the world has ever seen. The roadster version followed three years later and Mercedes celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this week by taking a trip down to memory lane.
The current R231 model was launched about five years ago and even though it’s far from being a strong seller, the SL-Class is expected to live on into the next decade. A new generation is currently in the works and that’s why we have decided to see into the future of the Sport Leicht by speculatively rendering the all-new gen with headlights derived from the AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept.
Emphasis on the word “speculatively” since it’s not known at this point how the design of Mercedes’ droptop will evolve in the model’s next iteration. The all-new SL was spotted a couple of times last year while undergoing testing, but it was hiding underneath the body of shorter S-Class Coupe in the S63 specification as seen below.
The seventh generation will allegedly eschew the electrically folding hardtop and switch to a fabric roof like the R129 (1989-2002). If the rumours are going to pan out, the new SL is going to lose some weight as a result of adopting the new soft top, which should also free up additional trunk space thanks to the simpler roof mechanism.
Since we’ve mentioned weight, most of the diet will actually come from the all-new underpinnings borrowed from the Mercedes-AMG GT. Indeed, the 2019 SL is expected to ride on same platform as the two-door GT coupes and convertibles, which will be joined before the end of the decade by a four-door saloon.
Instead of getting the “R232” codename, it is believed the next SL is known internally as the “R233” to emphasise the vast changes over its predecessor. The coupe body style might come back, but take this rumour with the proverbial pinch of salt.
As far as the engines are concerned, the silky smooth V12 will likely soldier on in the SL65 since we simply can’t imagine the gran tourer without it. Mercedes will soon introduce a new inline-six “M 256” petrol unit in the S-Class facelift and that seems likely a suitable to find its way inside the SL’s engine bay for an entry-level variant. In the refreshed S-Class saloon, the new engine will develop in excess of 408 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.
Taking into account there aren’t any spy shots of production-bodied prototypes yet, don’t expect the new SL to come out in the near future. A plausible scenario regarding the roadster’s premiere would have to be the end of 2018 or early 2019.