Mercedes-Benz made some big waves when it announced awhile back that the next-generation SL-Class would actually be developed by AMG. Not that there’d be an AMG variant, as per usual, but that the entire development of the SL-Class would be done by AMG, Mercedes’ performance division. Which is why it’s actually called the Mercedes-AMG SL. This upcoming Mercedes-AMG SL is going to take the BMW 8 Series head-on and I think it’s fair to say that the Bavarians should be a bit worried.
Handing SL-Class development over to AMG was a smart idea, as the original 300 SL was designed to be a performance car. However, in recent years, the SL turned into a bit of a big, heavy, luxo-barge that didn’t end up doing very well with either customers or enthusiasts. Giving AMG the keys to SL development should revert it back to its sporty GT roots.
Mercedes-AMG recently released photos of the upcoming SL’s interior, showing off a cabin that looks sporty, extremely premium, and high-tech. This new interior is going to be an important aspect of the SL, as its main rival — the BMW 8 Series — is criticized for having an interior whose design isn’t up to par with its price. The SL’s interior looks fantastic, even if its center console looks a bit like a big smiley face. Admittedly, many of modern Mercedes’ interiors have some questionably materials in low, mostly our-of-reach places, but their designs, luxury, and tech make up for it.
One interesting bit about the SL’s cabin is its main MBUX infotainment screen. The screen itself isn’t that unusual and is very similar to the one found in the new S-Class but it does have one unique feature — it moves. The screen actually can tilt forward to a more vertical position, which is designed to reduce glare. It’s actually an interesting idea, because it can be put up to reduce glare and then back down when glare isn’t an issue. Also, for shorter passengers who might have a hard time reaching the screen can keep it in its more vertical position all the time. Neat little trick.
Another interesting bit to note is that the new Mercedes-AMG SL is the first SL-Class since the R129 generation to feature a 2+2 cabin, with seating for four. The 8 Series has rear seats as well but they’re not really accessible to humans. So we’ll have to see if the SL-Class will have accommodating rear seats or not. Still, it’s interesting that it has them.
To make the Mercedes-AMG SL even more formidable, it’s a completely unique vehicle for the brand. Not a single mechanical component was borrowed from the previous SL-Class, nor was anything even borrowed from the AMG GT. The new SL is an entirely new vehicle, designed from the ground up to be a proper sporty GT.
I’m an unashamed fan of the Mercedes SL-Class, with the R129-generation ironically being my favorite. So I’m very interested to see what the SL-Class will become with AMG at the helm. I was also incredibly excited about the 8 Series, prior to its release, only to be a bit let down by its interior and lack of engaging driving experience. So I’m hoping that the new Mercedes-AMG SL can be the sporty GT car it has the potential to be.
BMW should also be a bit concerned. Not only is the new SL-Class developed by AMG, which means it should have some inherent sportiness built in, but it’s also a more popular name. The SL-Class name has been around for decades and is synonymous with sporty GT cars. BMW had its chance to capitalize on the recent failures of the SL-Class but squandered that opportunity with an underwhelming, overly expensive 8 Series. Now, Mercedes has a chance to strike back and it seems to have regained some of its original mojo.