2022 Mercedes-AMG SL: First Drive Review

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspAll New, All AMG
Almost 70 years have passed since Mercedes-Benz introduced the iconic SL grand touring sports car, and over the last several decades this classic has transitioned from racing car to luxury tourer. For the new year, the German auto giant premieres an entirely new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL that delivers the highest levels of luxury, but also adds a healthy dose of technology and incredible AMG performance — all wrapped in a sexy new body that makes this car a proper successor and tribute to the original SL.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspLuxury and Performance
“The new SL combines the sporty genes of the original SL with the driving performance typical of AMG, “ said Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH Philipp Schiemer. “At the same time, it offers luxury and comfort at the absolute top level. This combination is unique in the sports car segment and is also reflected in the interior. The high-quality combination of analogue world and state-of-the-art digital equipment makes it clear that the new SL is the rebirth of an icon for the modern era,” Schiemer observed

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspAll New
This next-generation 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL began with a clean slate — no components carried over from the previous generation SL — or any other model, for that matter. This means the 2022 SL gets built on all-new architecture developed by Mercedes-AMG. The new SL features a body shell built on a lightweight composite aluminum chassis designed for maximum rigidity and outstanding driving dynamics. The new SL also features 2+2 seating — the first time in an SL since 1989.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspFresh Look
Despite the car’s originality, the new SL is easily recognizable as a Mercedes-AMG roadster thanks to an AMG-specific grille adorned with a prominent Mercedes star. Large air intakes in the front bumper transmit cooling air to the radiator and brakes while simultaneously improving aerodynamic efficiency. Slim LED headlights wrap around the corners, giving the SL a wide stance.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspProper Roadster Proportions
The long, sculpted hood blends to a sharply raked windshield and short trunk lid to give the new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL classic sports car proportions. Bold rear-wheel arches and standard 20-inch alloy wheels underscore the SL’s sporting provenance.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspRear View
Slim taillights in the same shape as the headlights provide the new SL with a distinctive look, while signature quad exhaust outlets are a telltale sign that this SL is an AMG performance model. The active rear spoiler integrates well with the trunk lid, remaining hidden until deployment. The spoiler has five positions that adjust the angle depending on vehicle speed.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspConvertible Top
Reminiscent of the original SL, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL roadster goes back to a soft-top. The three-layer top with an integrated acoustic mat keeps the cabin quiet and comfortable, and it can be raised or lowered in only 15 seconds at speeds up to 37 mph. The soft-top reduces weight by 46 pounds and lowers the car’s center of gravity for improved driving dynamics. Visibility remains paramount through the SL’s heated glass rear window.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspFour-Season Soft-Top
During our press drive with the new SL in Southern California, we experienced some unexpectedly cold, wet weather and the SL roadster proved its mettle as a four-season vehicle. The fabric soft-top keeps the cabin comfortable and coupe-like quiet even when cruising through driving rain. The top’s smooth, fast operation allows occupants to quickly adjust to changing weather patterns, opening quickly to take advantage of sun breaks while also being able to cover up in a snap when raindrops return.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspModel Lineup
For the 2022 model year, the SL roadster will only be available as an AMG model with two variants offered: AMG SL55 and AMG SL63. Pricing has not been released for the new SL; final numbers should be announced later this spring, closer to the on-sale date.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspMercedes-AMG SL55
The SL55 may be the entry point into the lineup, although it comes with a long list of standard features. Highlights include leather-trimmed Active Multicontour Seats with massage, heating and cooling; a heated steering wheel; an AMG Performance Steering Wheel; a Burmester Surround Sound System; Active LED headlights; AIRSCARF neck-level heating; and AMG Ride Control. Also standard are a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and an adjustable 11.9-inch center display.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspMercedes-AMG SL63
In addition to its more powerful V8 engine, the SL63 upgrades the SL55 with AMG Dynamic Select Race mode, AMG Active Ride Control, a limited-slip rear differential, a head-up display, augmented video for navigation, dynamic engine mounts and yellow brake calipers.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspPower and Performance
Powering the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL is a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter Biturbo V8 engine teamed with a 9-speed AMG Speedshift transmission. Power output in the SL55 is 469 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, while the top-level SL63 bumps up to 577 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Both are extremely quick — the SL63 sprints to 60 mph in a mere 3.5 seconds, while the SL55 takes three-tenths of a second longer for the same task. Top speed is rated at 183 mph for the SL55 and 196 mph for the SL63.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspAll-Wheel Drive, All-Wheel Steering
For the first time in its history, the SL gets all-wheel drive for the 2022 model year. The AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system features fully variable torque distribution front to rear, which improves handling and stability in both dry and slick conditions. The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL also features rear-axle steering, which is designed to improve maneuverability and handling. At slower speeds the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction of the fronts to create a much tighter turning radius, while at higher speeds (above 62 mph) the wheels steer in the same direction for better vehicle control with less steering input needed.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspInner Space
Inside, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL possesses a fresh look with a new 11.9-inch touchscreen center display that eliminates almost all physical buttons. This arrangement accommodates a flowing dashboard highlighted by four turbinelike air vents. With the gear selector on the steering column, the SL has plenty of storage space in the center area and multiple USB-C ports. The carbon fiber trim and LED lighting add to a high-tech vibe throughout the cabin.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspEliminating Glare
Filed under the topic of “they think of everything,” Mercedes engineers designed the large portrait-format center display to be electrically adjustable with its inclination varying from 12 to 32 degrees, which eliminates glare when the roof is open. In addition, the driver display is integrated with the sun visor to prevent sunlight reflections.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspAMG Performance Wheel
As a proper AMG model, this new SL gets fitted with an AMG Performance steering wheel featuring a flat bottom and Nappa leather trim. Haptic sensor controls allow for easy adjustment of the configurable driver display, while additional buttons provide access to volume controls as well as telephone and hands-free settings. Two round buttons inhabit the lower section — one provides quick drive mode selections, while the other enables adjustments to the suspension and exhaust note.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspAMG Sport Seats
The standard Multicontour sport seats are a bit stiff in the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL, although still comfortable and supportive with heating, ventilation and massage. During our press drive we came to appreciate the SL’s AIRSCARF blowing warm air across the backs of necks from beneath the integrated head restraints — a welcome feature while enjoying top-down motoring during colder-than-normal California temperatures.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspRear Seat
For the first time in more than 30 years, this new SL has seating for four occupants. That said, the rear seat should accommodate passengers only when absolutely necessary, since front seats would have to be moved forward considerably, likely making the ride uncomfortable for all. In keeping with most 2+2s, the rear seat of the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL serves best for stowing packages or coats. A removable wind deflector can be deployed to reduce air turbulence for front-seat occupants.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspOn the Road
Mercedes-Benz invited us to test the new SL in sunny southern California; however, as previously noted the weather had different ideas. We spent much of our time with the new SL in cold, rainy weather that ultimately had a silver lining. The inclement weather demonstrated the SL’s ability to function as a four-season car. In addition to the insulated top keeping occupants cozy and warm within the cabin, the all-wheel-drive system allows the driver to make confident use of the powerful AMG V8 on wet, slick roads.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspTop-Down Sophistication
When the sun finally returned to California, we were able to drop the SL’s top. The cabin of the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL is a calming space even with the fabric down; the car has practically no interior air turbulence, which makes for easy conversation at any speed. An additional benefit of dropping the SL’s top: the throaty V8 exhaust note as we pushed the SL nearly to its limits on the winding roads of the San Jacinto Mountains outside Palm Springs.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspLuxury Cruiser
Even though the new AMG orients more toward performance than touring — it is an AMG, after all — this sleek roadster is also an amazing highway companion at cruising speeds. With seat massagers in operation and some smooth tunes playing on the high-end Burmester audio system, we felt like motoring all day in the new SL — top up or down.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspStellar Performance
Although some might prefer the softer ride of the previous SL, this new AMG roadster is a proper sports car. Acceleration is incredibly strong – passing slower cars on a two-lane road is as easy as it is exhilarating, with triple digit speeds arriving quickly. And like other AMG models, the SL’s steering is tight and responsive with excellent feedback on winding roads, aided by the four-wheel steering and all-wheel-drive system. Overall and hands down this new SL is a fantastically fun car to experience.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspSL55 vs. SL63
Aside from bragging rights — and we’re not completely dismissing these — the SL55 and SL63 have virtually the same level of performance. After driving both variants, we concluded that both are incredibly quick and possess excellent handling as well as a wonderful exhaust note. Most drivers will not be able to differentiate performance levels between the two, and in America it is unlikely any owner will come close to the listed top speed. But for some, having a “63” badge affixed to their car rather than a “55” is worth the additional cost.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspRight for You?
The SL is such an iconic automobile that a complete redesign can be difficult task, and we’re pleased to report that Mercedes-Benz nailed it with the new SL. With classic roadster lines and a simple yet high-tech interior, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL is a fitting tribute to the original model. Add in impressive AMG power and performance and the new SL is as wonderful to drive as it is to behold. For those seeking sports car performance in an elegant, luxurious roadster, the new SL is certainly worthy of serious consideration.

xA9 Perry Stern Automotive Content ExperiencenbspRating: 9.0
Pros: Gorgeous styling; excellent all-season performance; quick-operating soft-top.
Cons: Ride could be too stiff for some folks; 2+2 translates to tiny rear seat.
Bottom Line: With excellent handling, strong acceleration, a luxurious interior and a pleasing V8 soundtrack, the 2022 SL is everything a driver could expect from a proper Mercedes-AMG sports car — and more.

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