Mercedes-AMG looks to be readying its new SL roadster for a reveal in the coming months, with a newly spotted prototype dropping most of its camouflage to give a good look at the car’s final styling.
The latest images come after Mercedes recently released official details of the composite aluminium body shell used by the all-new SL roadster.
Completely unrelated to the structures that underpin the previous-generation SL and current AMG GT, the new body combines an aluminium space frame with a “self-supporting structure”.
Mercedes claims the development process was particularly challenging given this new SL features a 2+2 seating arrangement, and will accommodate a wider variety of powertrain options. The priorities, it says, were to “present the driving performance characteristic of the brand with a focus on lateral and longitudinal dynamics, as well as to meet the high expectations in terms of comfort and safety”.
A combination of aluminium, steel, magnesium and fibre composites was selected for the best balance of lightness and rigidity, with the new SL boasting an 18% increase in stiffness over the old model. Transverse rigidity, AMG claims, is up 50% over the AMG GT Roadster, while longitudinal rigidity has been boosted by 40%.
The main body shell – without the doors, bonnet, boot lid and other exterior fixings – weighs 270kg.
The reborn convertible will square off against the Porsche 911 Cabriolet with a range of hybridised straight-six and V8 engine options.
Multiple SL variants have been spotted side-by-side in minimal disguise, highlighting two different fabric roof options. This confirms Autocar’s previous reports 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.
Mercedes also confirmed that the 2+2-seat SL will be sold under the AMG brand only and will be offered with fully variable 4Matic+ all-wheel drive. While much of the SL’s development was handled virtually, final on-road testing will soon include the north loop of the Nürburgring, hinting at the car’s sporting ambition.
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