You don’t get AMG rather than Benz on the badge and don’t expect a change of emphasis – less the two-door open-top luxury saloon, far more the dynamic sportscar – and a change of emphasis is definitely what this seventh-generation Sport Leicht offers.
Mercedes says the V8-only car is going back to its motor racing-inspired roots. With the best of the two versions so far unveiled credited with 195mph and 0-62 in 3.6 seconds, it is no hollow claim.
A light and rigid new structure, active aerodynamics, fancy new five-link suspension and active anti-roll control, all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering – all first-time SL features – make up the headlines of AMG’s SL reinvention. That and the new model’s aggressive, shark-like snout and slippery profile.
This sharper sporting focus has little room for an indulgence like a retractable metal-and-glass hardtop, and so it’s gone. Mercedes was among the first with a folding hard-top, with the SLK, but is among the last of the carmakers to renounce it.
It was hardly an unexpected move then, but SL owners – traditionally a loyal bunch – may still feel that a USP of the SL for the past 20 years has been sacrificed. The change to a simpler, lighter fabric roof also runs the risk of aligning the SL with its soft-top compatriots, everything from the C-Class convertible to the GT Roadster that is already part of AMG’s range.