Mercedes-Benz has released the first images and details of the upcoming SL roadster ahead of its official reveal next year.
Official images show a pair of disguised pre-production prototypes of the reborn sports car taking part in on-road testing near the company’s Immendingen technology centre.
Both cars show a clear family resemblance to the AMG GT, while the different exhaust tip designs suggest multiple engine derivatives are being put through their paces.
The camouflage used seemingly confirms Autocar’s previous reporting that the SL will arrive with a traditional fabric hood in place of the folding hard-top arrangement that has been used for the past two incarnations.
The SL is set to be revived as a lighter, faster and more engaging model partly inspired by the brand’s motorsport roots, which is why overall development duties have been assigned to the AMG performance division. It will be the first time AMG has overseen development of any SL across its previous seven generations.
Test mules had previously been spotted at a top-secret development facility, which despite being largely under wraps showed off a long, sloping bonnet, prominent rear haunches and an angular front grille design. The rounded rear end is similar to that of the Mercedes-AMG GT sports car, which will share a platform with the SL in its next iteration.
Last year, novel-looking Mercedes prototypes, believed to be chassis mules for the new SL, were spotted after then-AMG boss Tobias Moers told Autocar that SL prototypes were entering their testing phase.
Moers also confirmed that the SL, which will go on sale by 2021, will be “aligned” with the next AMG GT. The duo’s shared aluminium-intensive platform, known as the Modular Sports Architecture (MSA), will increase the economies of scale and overall profitability of two of Mercedes’ most exclusive model lines.
All engines for the new SL will come as standard with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox, with the AMG variants set to adopt the Speedshift electronics package for faster shift times. Suggestions are that Mercedes could offer 4Matic four-wheel drive alongside standard rear-wheel drive, although this has yet to be confirmed.
Despite the SL’s market repositioning, it won’t completely abandon the luxury focus, so expect the interior to be almost as opulent as Mercedes’ other high-end models. It will be more driver-focused than cars such as the S-Class Coupé, but there could still be plenty of the brand’s latest driver assist systems drafted in, including its semi-autonomous Drive Pilot function.
Additional reporting by Rachel Burgess