• The Mercedes-AMG SL returns to its roots, equipped with a classic soft top and sporty character
  • The luxuriously appointed 2+2 roadster features 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive for the first time
  • Mercedes-AMG has paired a 4.0-litre V8 bi-turbo engine with high-tech components
  • The original Mercedes-Benz SL was designed as a road-going racing sports car, released for racing in 1952 and to the public in 1954

For almost 70 years, the SL badge has had success on some of the world’s most iconic racetracks. Now, the model that set the template for generations of sports cars is back – this time as a 2+2 soft-top roadster complete with a suite of luxury, technology, and safety.

Mercedes-Benz says the new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4MATIC+ represents a return to the roots of the classic SL badge, which wowed the world on its release as a road-going racing sports car in the 1950s, and was also the model that introduced eye-catching gullwing-style doors.

Dubbed the “sports car of the century“ in its original 300 SL guise, and brought to life in a number of subsequent iterations, it will hit New Zealand roads in June.

“With the new SL, we have created a repositioning of the iconic SL design. The expressively modelled exterior conveys a light and purist impression and brings sensual beauty and extravagant design into perfect harmony”, says Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler Group.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Clean-sheet design

The new body shell was created – as with the first SL released in 1952 – literally on a blank sheet of paper: Not a single component comes from the predecessor SL, or any other model such as the AMG GT Roadster.

The chassis is designed as a lightweight composite aluminium structure and consists of an aluminium space frame with a self-supporting structure. Apparently, the design guarantees maximum rigidity and is thus the Internal perfect basis for precise driving dynamics, high comfort, optimal packaging, and sporty body proportions.

Compared to the previous model series, the torsional rigidity of the body shell structure increased by 18 per cent. The transverse rigidity is 50 per cent higher than the AMG GT Roadster. The longitudinal rigidity is 40 per cent higher.

An material mix including aluminium, magnesium, fibre composites and steel enables the highest possible rigidity at a low weight, says Mercedes-Benz. The windscreen frame, for example, is made of steel, serving as roll-over protection in conjunction with the roll bar system behind the rear seats, which extends at lightning speed if needed.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Active aerodynamics for balance and efficiency

A key development focus of the new SL was creating a perfect balance between low drag and reduced lift. Mercedes-AMG’s wide-ranging motorsport expertise combined with extensive active aerodynamic elements at the front and rear, all seamlessly integrated into the exterior design.

A technical highlight is the active air control system AIRPANEL, which comprises two distinct louvres for the first time, located in the lower and upper air intakes in the front apron. In normal driving all louvres are closed, reducing drag and directing air specifically towards the underbody to further reduce front lift.

Only when the demand for cooling air is particularly high do the louvres open and allow maximum cooling air to flow to the heat exchangers.

A retractable rear spoiler, seamlessly integrated into the boot lid, actively changes through different angular positions. This optimises handling stability or reduces drag, depending on driving speed, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, and steering speed.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Cleverly designed, weight-saving soft-top

The new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 features an electrically operated soft top, replacing the metal vario roof of the previous SL model, with a 21-kilogram reduction in weight. The space-saving Z-fold configuration makes it possible to dispense with a conventional soft-top compartment cover.

Opening or closing takes about 15 seconds using a switch panel in the centre console or the multimedia touchscreen, and operation is possible at speeds up to 60 km/h.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Power meets 4MATIC+ glory

The AMG 4.0-litre V8 biturbo engine is assembled purely by hand at the company’s site according to the “One Man, One Engine” principle. In the SL 63 4MATIC+, it develops 430 kW and maximum torque of 800 Nm for a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration of as little as 3.6 seconds, while the top speed is 315 km/h.

For this model, the engine received a new oil pan, repositioned intercoolers and active crankcase ventilation, while the intake and exhaust ducts have been optimised. Increased output was achieved primarily through higher boost pressure and greater air flow, as well as modified engine software.

It’s paired with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9G transmission, specially adapted to the requirements of the new SL to combine an “emotionally appealing gearshift experience” with short shift times.

A wet start-off clutch replaces the torque converter, reducing weight and, thanks to its lower inertia, optimises response to accelerator pedal commands, especially during spurts and load changes.

For the first time, the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 is equipped with AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive technology as standard. This system provides fully variable torque distribution to the front and rear axles, ensuring optimal traction right up to the physical limit. In another first, active rear-axle steering is also standard.

The AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package is also standard, including AMG dynamic engine mounts, the RACE driving program including Drift Mode, plus an AMG electronic rear axle locking differential.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Extra control and precision

Also making its debut on the SL 63 is AMG ACTIVE RIDE CONTROL suspension with active, hydraulic anti-roll stabilisation. Active hydraulic elements replace conventional mechanical anti-roll bars, to compensate for rolling movements in fractions of a second. This enables optimal steering and load-change behaviour via AMG-typical dynamics, precision and driver feedback.

The new SL is also fitted standard with a front axle lift function, which can raise the front axle by up to 30 mm and can be activated by softkey or via stored GPS data.

A newly developed AMG high-performance composite braking system is optional for the SL 63, generating short braking distances, sensitive response, and high stability. The composite brake discs are lighter than before and take up less space, improving brake cooling.

Also new to the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 is the DIGITAL LIGHT system that debuted on the luxurious S-Class saloon. It incorporates a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs in each headlamp, refracting and directing light through 1.3 million micro-mirrors to create a resolution of more than 2.6 million pixels per vehicle.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Stylish and well-equipped

The driver can expect to find AMG sports seats upholstered in Exclusive Nappa leather, complete with the AIRSCARF neck-warming feature that’s perfect for top-down motoring in any temperature. The standard Energizing Package includes both heating and cooling for the front seats, while the Memory Package includes eight-way electric adjustment and three memory settings.

The AMG Performance steering wheel is also heated and includes integrated rotary dials to control AMG-specific driving features. There’s a standard head-up display (HUD) with augmented reality for navigation, an 11-speaker Burmester surround sound system with an output of 650 watts, ambient lighting with a choice of 64 colours, dual-zone climate control, and a mechanical wind deflector to minimise airflow through the cabin when driving with the roof stowed.

The SL 63 features an 11.9-inch tablet-style central display housing the latest generation of the acclaimed MBUX multimedia system, featuring extended MBUX functions. This also supports full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto, and a wireless charging system is supplied for compatible devices.

The driver also has a choice of six AMG Dynamic Select drive programs spanning from Comfort through to RACE, and can additionally call on the AMG Track Pace system for advanced mapping and timing functions in racetrack environments.

The stylish cabin includes AMG aluminium trim, a MANUFAKTUR roof liner in black DINAMICA microfibre, AMG floor mats, and illuminated door sills with AMG lettering.

The rear seats in the 2+2 roadster increase everyday usability, offering space for people up to 1.50 metres tall. If extra seating isn’t needed, a plug-in wind deflector behind the rear seats protects front-seat passengers from draughts on the back of their necks. The second row of seats can also be utilised as additional stowage space.

Externally, the all-new design is distinguished by a number of AMG-enhanced features including the radiator grille, front apron, side air intakes, rear apron, side skirts and power domes on the bonnet. The 21-inch AMG 10-twin-spoke forged wheel are finished in grey with a high-sheen finish, and the AMG brake callipers are painted yellow. Metallic paint is standard, and the SL 63 is fitted with flush-fitting door handles that extend as the owner approaches the vehicle, as well as the KEYLESS-GO entry system.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Safety Package

The SL 63 is fitted with the Driving Assistance Package Plus including Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, route-based speed adaptation, Active traffic-assist, Active Steering Assist and Active Lane Change Assist. It includes a total of eight airbags, including sidebags for rear occupants.

A tyre pressure monitoring system is standard, as is GUARD 360° Vehicle Protection Plus, which includes an anti-theft alarm system and an interior monitoring system. Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC, a 360° camera, and pedestrian protection are also included, as is MAGIC VISION CONTROL – an advanced windscreen wiper system designed to provide superior cleaning and a streak-free finish.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL: Pricing

The new Mercedes-AMG SL 63 4MATIC+ is priced at $361,900 and will be available to order from the 8th June. Pricing excludes any Clean Car fees.

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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