Mercedes introduced a new SL-Class in 2021. The car remains a small two-seater with plenty of power under the bonnet, gaining a soft-top retractable roof. But how does it compare to a tuned SL from nearly 20 years ago? A new video from Carwow answers that question by racing them.

Powering the 2004 SL55 R230 is a supercharged 5.5-litre V8 engine. It produced 493 bhp (361 kilowatts) and 516 pound-feet (700 Newton-metres) of torque from the factory. However, the owner tuned this example to make 625 bhp (459 kW). The power routes through a five-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels, and it weighs 1,885 kilograms (4,155 pounds).

Gallery: Mercedes-AMG SL 2022

The new R232 SL55 makes much less power, churning out 476 bhp (350 kW), but the same amount of torque from its twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8. The new SL is also heavier, weighing 1,950 kg (4,299 lbs). However, its nine-speed automatic transmission with launch control and all-wheel drive give it a clear advantage, evident in the first run down the airstrip.

The newer AMG SL55 rocketed off the line, leaving its older self struggling for traction at the start of the race. Once the 2004 SL got going, though, it stayed steady with the newer convertible. However, it was too far behind to close the gap. The new SL completed the quarter-mile in 11.5 seconds, while the older one needed 12.3.

The 2004 SL performed better in the rolling races, almost beating the newer example in the first bout. It lost the second one but won the third by starting in second gear. The new SL didn’t have a chance, falling behind through the half-mile race with the older one gapping it at the end. The final brake test from 70 miles per hour (112 kilometres per hour) went to the new car, showing how much brake technology has improved after nearly two decades.

Consumers don’t flock to sports cars like they used to, spending money on more useful vehicles like crossovers and SUVs. The SL has been a Mercedes staple since the 1950s, and the latest iteration continues to carry that torch.