2022 Mercedes SL prototype reveals more design details

Stripped down camouflage reveals more of the SL’s sleek new look

Mercedes-Benz has revealed yet more images of the new SL before its full reveal in the coming weeks, this time giving us our best look yet at the sleek new exterior design with only the lightest of external camouflage. As we’ve already reported, the new SL will join the range with an all-together more serious AMG-developed chassis and two-plus-two seating layout, aimed directly at the Porsche 911 Cabriolet and Aston Martin Vantage. 

And from these images, Mercedes has certainly not held back with the new SL’s styling, introducing a low, wide and very sleek design that shares many of Merc’s contemporary design elements fortified with bespoke elements befitting its placement at the top of Merc’s sports car range. 

This is no more evident than in the SL’s proportions, highlighted by a short wheelbase, wide stance and very low bonnet line – all aspects we also expect to see in the next AMG GT which will share the new SL’s chassis. In terms of detailing, the upturned Panamericana grille and shark-nose profile have never been more aggressive, while the super slim headlights and sculpted front wings look taught and shrink wrapped around what will no doubt be a very tech-heavy powertrain beneath.

Mercedes has already fully-revealed the interior design, which draws a balance between new-generation Mercedes-Benz cabins, informed by the new S-class, and those of the new SL’s auspicious predecessors, while also referencing the car’s AMG ties. The simple dash layout is dominated by an upright digital interface that’s also able to be tilted to ensure visibility under sunlight when the roof is lowered. 

This then sits on top of an AMG NACA graphic on the centre console, with a simple upper dash punctured by four roundell vents and a retro-inspired cowelling over the digital dial pack. The move to a 2+2 seating layout is also the first time an SL has featured occasional rear seats since the R107 that was first introduced in 1971.

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The new SL’s structure will not share any elements with the current version, instead debuting a bespoke mixed-metal construction similar to that of the Porsche 911, with the majority of the structure made from aluminium and key structural points in high-strength steel.

The new SL’s structure will not share any elements with the current version, instead debuting a new mixed-metal construction similar to that of the Porsche 911, with the majority of the structure made from aluminium and key structural points in high-strength steel

Other crucial connection points, such as the suspension strut towers, are manufactured from complex aluminium castings, while the internal dash structure is cast magnesium. The result of this complex combination of materials is extreme stiffness, helping to offset the structural compromises of the open chassis and resulting in an 18 percent increase in torsional rigidity compared to the previous-generation SL.AdvertisementAdvertisement – Article continues below

The new SL will also be the first with a two-plus-two layout since the R129-generation model of the early ’90s, making this a more versatile model than the strict two-seater of the last two generations, even if those back seats aren’t much use for anyone other than very small children.

Where the new SL will particularly differ from AMG’s older GT is its fundamentally different mechanical layout, conceding its transaxle arrangement to leave room for a new electrified rear axle. This plug-and-play axle will be fitted in combination with AMG’s 4-litre V8, creating a new flagship AMG model that will share top billing in the range with the GT73e four-door and incoming AMG S-class. 

The new SL is also expected to feature Merc’s straight six-cylinder petrol engines lower down the range, and all will be hybridised in some form, whether that be a mild-hybrid or plug-in. Whether its ultra-low bonnetline will require the use of a dry-sump oil system remains to be seen, but the extremely dense packaging requirements might see Merc retain the M177 dry-sump to keep the engine’s packaging as compact as possible.

It will also ditch the folding metal roof introduced on the R230-generation model in 2001, swapping it for a lighter and less complex fabric arrangement. We can also spot family design elements adopted from current Mercedes models, such as slim LED lights and an upturned Panamericana grille.

The new SL will be revealed in the coming weeks. While the SL’s ‘Sports Leicht’ name has become less appropriate to the car over the last few generations, this new model should go some way to restoring its former relevance.

This article originally appeared at evo.co.uk

Copyright © evo UK, Autovia Publishing

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