RAC Cars News


Shared AMG GT underpinnings for new Mercedes SL

By raccars Published


Mercedes SL will have same platform as AMG GTs to offer higher performance and boost sales.

The new Mercedes SL is to have the same underpinnings as the brand’s AMG GTs as the firm looks to boost sales by offering higher performance. Mercedes believes the platform will allow the new roadster to offer additional performance potential and a more dynamic experience to counteract falling sales figures for the current model.

The switch to the GT platform comes after Mercedes decided to give the lead engineering responsibilities on the SL project to AMG. Since then, the roadster has been developed at AMG’s Stuttgart HQ as part of a development programme which is running parallel to the creation of the brand’s own GT roadster. The latter made its debut at September’s Paris motor show.

The shared platform makes sense for AMG which can benefit from greater economies of scale in terms of engineering operations, production procurement and development. It is believed that this has given AMG the ability to focus resources into additional GT derivatives, including a Black Series variant which will sit at the top of the Mercedes performance car line-up. This is set to be launched before the end of the decade.

Mercedes SL to arrive in 2019

The rear-wheel-drive Mercedes SL is set to be introduced in 2019 and will share its underpinnings with the GT coupe, which is two-years-old, and the more recent roadster. The platform ensures optimal weight distribution and replaces the E-Class based platform which has been a feature of the last two generations of the Mercedes SL.

In further links between the GT and SL line-up, the new roadster looks set to get a specially-tuned variant of the AMG suspension system and the option of Air Body Control with multiple chamber air plungers. It will also have the same carbon fibre torque tube as the GT and an aluminium body.

As a result the new model, codenamed R233, should be substantially lighter and able to offer improved economy and performance. Replacing its folding aluminium roof with a fabric hood will also aid in the Mercedes SL’s weight reduction.

Plans for the SL Coupe

Alongside the roadster, Mercedes is also said to be considering resurrecting the SL coupe. If this goes ahead, the eighth incarnation of the SL will be feature a model not included in the range since 1981 and the fourth-generation of the SL.

In another move harking back to the fourth-gen, which was launched in 1971, there are also plans to give the new SL a two-plus-two layout inside. This means that there will be two small seats at the rear which should allow the Mercedes to take on the likes of the Porsche 911 cabriolet in terms of passenger carrying ability.

Direct injection engines

Buyers of the new SL will have the choice of a pair of direct injection petrol units in various states of tuning. There will also be a combination of the new Mercedes M256 six-cylinder in-line engine with an integrated motor which acts as the car’s starter generator and offers hybrid properties.

A 3.0-litre turbocharged unit will deliver 402bhp and a tuned version producing 450bhp is set to feature in an SL AMG Performance E50-badged version. Another unit earmarked for the SL is the Mercedes M176 petrol unit which could deliver more than 470bhp. This engine is likely to make its first appearance in a revamped S-Class model next April.

Higher up in the range, there will be the M177 unit found in the E63, where it develops 603bhp. It is unclear as to what will happen with the top-of-the-range SL65 and SL600 models as emissions regulations and the power output of the company's 4.0 V8 make it far from certain that the existing V12 will be replaced.

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