Mercedes-Benz wants to return the SL-Class to its motorsports roots, and it has entrusted the car’s engineering development entirely to the AMG team to make it happen. The R232 SL arriving next year will strive to channel the racing roots of the storied W194 Gullwing SL, and we’re promised it’ll deliver more S (sport) and L (lightness). But we’re also told it will ride on a wheelbase lengthened to accommodate rear seats, which certainly muddies the messaging. To help give us a taste of what the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL-Class will be like, the company invited us to ride along in a prototype undergoing final verification drives in the Rocky Mountains. “Our” car was one of a half-dozen brought in for a few weeks of final verification testing in hot-weather environs around Phoenix and at high altitudes in Colorado.
All previous SL models have been developed by Mercedes-Benz, though the first iteration was done by its racing department. In recent generations, the AMG performance team has occasionally adapted its own powertrains, chassis calibrations, and appearance items to these Benz-engineered SLs. We’re about to find out how much sportier and lighter a bespoke AMG SL can be, because starting with the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL-Class, the Affalterbach team has full responsibility for the model.
It purportedly started with a blank sheet of paper—much as Mercedes’ rennsport team did when it developed the original direct-injected 300-hp SL Gullwing race cars. Gestating an SL with such embedded sporting character means “organs” that don’t contribute to the sporting mission don’t develop. Like a retractable metal top, for instance. (The cloth one saves some 80 pounds from up high.) Computer optimization of the unibody, which is now composed of aluminum, magnesium, steel, and carbon fiber, yields a design that’s 280 pounds lighter with a lower center of gravity. It’s also 50 percent stronger in bending and 18 percent more rigid in torsion. For the full story, check out this article from Motor Trend.