Home / Home / Is the Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster Going Anywhere?


The iconic Mercedes SL roadster doesn’t seem like it’s going away. Ever. In fact, a lot more is afoot.

Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster

The SL roadster is an automotive icon not just for Mercedes-Benz but also for the automotive world. From the Super Leicht 190 SL and glorious 300 SL Gullwing Coupé from 66 years ago to the later generation models – the massive 7.3-litre V12-powered SL 73 AMG, the even more mental carbon-fixed-roof, 670-hp/1,000-Nm, biturbo-V12-powered SL 65 AMG Black Series – to the present model, still going forward with engines a few years old, without substantial update, the SL roadster has carved a niche for itself.

The present model has been around for some time, powered by a choice of biturbo V6 in the SL 400 (SL 450 in the US) and a biturbo V8 in the SL 500 (SL 550 in the US), with the top-of-the-range model being the AMG SL 63. The only change on that one has been the “AMG” and “SL 63” badging switching sides on the boot-lid.

Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster

That said, the SL roadster is set for a major overhaul.
One: the next-generation model is being developed exclusively by AMG in Affalterbach.
Two: the ’73’ badge rights have been sought for.
And, three: it could well be an EQ Power plug-in hybrid with Formula 1 tech paired to a massive 4.0-litre biturbo V8.
Put those altogether and the possibility of the 815-hp hybrid powertrain, first showcased in concept form in the car that became the AMG GT 4-Door Coupé, could see the light of day and light up the road as well. What could it have?

For starters, there is the next-generation hybrid system complete with a hybrid automatic transmission housing a powerful motor. The most powerful example of that is in the GLE 350 de 4MATIC plug-in hybrid, with a 100-kW example adding 136 hp and 440 Nm – enough output to give a regular sedan adequate performance without even considering the combustion motor. Now, the GLE 350 de uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. So, imagine the possibilities when the e-motor is larger than 100 kW, and the 2.0 diesel is replaced with a 4.0 biturbo V8 petrol.

That 4.0 V8 is already doing duty in M176, M177 and M178 guises in everything from the C 63 S and G 500 to the Maybach GLS 600 and AMG GT 4-Door Coupé – with between 422 and 639 hp. For the all-new AMG SL 73,we believe a new, bespoke version with between 612 and 639 hp will be used together with an e-motor. Regardless of what comes next, the predictions, with present hardware, point to an SL roadster with a 639-hp V8 joined by a 100-kW (136 hp) electric motor, for roughly 775 hp and – only theoretically –  1,340 Nm of peak torque. Now, consider the sort of hardware Lewis Hamilton race car the for-the-road AMG Project One have and there may be an indication of what more we can expect from the performance giants. Watch this space.

Here’s an indication of how much the Mercedes SL roadster has changed over the years:

1954 190 SL

1954 300 SL

1.9-litre in-line four

3.0-litre in-line six

105 hp / 142 Nm

225 hp / 274 Nm

Four-speed manual

Four-speed manual

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

1,167 kg

1,420 kg

89.97 hp/tonne

158.45 hp/tonne

14.3s 0-100, 170 km/h

7.4s 0-100, 217 km/h

The monstrous SL 73 AMG stood out then, and the fifth-gen R230 SL is here because it was the first SL to be officially sold in India, as was the supercharged V8-powered SL 55 AMG Kompressor later on.

1999 SL 73 AMG

2001 SL 500

7.3-litre V12

5.0-litre V8

525 hp / 750 Nm

306 hp / 460 Nm

Five-speed auto

Five-speed auto

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

1,975 kg

1,890 kg

265.82 hp/tonne

161.90 hp/tonne

4.6s 0-100, 300 km/h

6.2s 0-100, 250 km/h

The SL 65 AMG Black Series, though not a roadster with its fixed roof, remains the most powerful SL to date. The present SL 400 represents the entry to the hallowed badge from the revered brand. An update will bring in the new in-line six EQ Boost engine.

2009 SL 65 AMG Black Series

2019 SL 400

6.0-litre V12 twin-turbo

3.0-litre V6, twin-turbo

670 hp / 1,000 Nm

367 hp / 500 Nm

Five-speed auto

Nine-speed auto

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

1,870 kg

1,735 kg

358.29 hp/tonne

211.52 hp/tonne

4.6s 0-100, 250 km/h

4.9s 0-100, 250 km/h

The top two at present are V8-powered and are expected to get the 4.0-litre V8 biturbo petrol in the next coming.

2019 SL 500

2019 AMG SL 63

4.7-litre V8, twin-turbo

5.5-litre V8, twin-turbo

455 hp / 700 Nm

585 hp / 900 Nm

Nine-speed auto

Seven-speed dual-clutch auto

Rear-wheel drive

Rear-wheel drive

1,795 kg

1,845 kg

253.48 hp/tonne

317.07 hp/tonne

4.3s 0-100, 250 km/h

4.1s 0-100, 250 km/h


About the author: Jim Gorde


Deputy Editor at Car India and Bike India.
Believes that learning never stops, and that diesel plug-in hybrids are the only feasible immediate future until hydrogen FCEVs take over.

t: @CarIndia/@BikeIndia
IG: @carindia_mag/@bikeindia/@jimbosez


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