2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos

The folks from Afalterbach have revitalized the SL-Class with new powertrains, cutting-edge tech and for the very first time, All-Wheel-Drive

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The Mercedes SL (Sport Licht), which translates to Sport Light in German, is a car that set the benchmark for sport and luxury for nearly seven decades. The 300 SL name has its weight in gold and the latest Mercedes SL (the first one in nearly a decade) is the direct descendent of the SL Roadster from the early 1950s.

The 2023 Mercedes SL Roadster is a new car from the ground up and it essentially replaces the S-Class Cabriolet and the AMG GT Roadster. The folks from Affalterbach have worked extensively on the SL to transform it from a boulevard cruiser to a genuine open-top sports car, reminiscent of the original. Gone is the foldable hardtop roof and in comes a canvas soft top. Also, AMG is calling the SL Roadster a 2+2 and for the first time in the model’s history, 4-Matic All-Wheel-Drive now comes as standard.

  • Leave it
    • 2+2 Configuration, but rear seats are pretty tight and upright
    • No physical button for the roof, operation only through infotainment screen
    • Heavier than outgoing model

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL Performance and Capability

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos Exterior
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At launch, the SL-Class is available in two trims:

  • AMG SL55
  • AMG SL63

Both trim levels include AMG’s hand-built 4.0-liter Bi-turbo V-8 engine that produces 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque in the SL55 and 577 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque in the SL63.

The SL55 will do the sprint to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, while the SL63 gets there in 3.5 seconds. The top speed is reportedly 183 mph for the SL55 while the SL63 tops out at 196 mph. Both trims feature a nine-speed AMG Speedshift MCT automatic transmission that comes with a multi-plate clutch instead of a torque converter.

Across the pond, Europeans have access to a lower-spec SL43 AMG that packs a four-pot heart, i.e a 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood that puts out 376 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. It features a clever F1-derived electric turbocharger with an electric motor that provides an additional 13 horsepower. There is no word yet on if this entry-level SL will make it State-side.

AMG will soon also add an E Performance plug-in hybrid powertrain to the SL lineup. The previously described 4.0-liter V-8 engine will work with an electric motor and the system will have a combined output of 804 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos Drivetrain
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Also, for the first time in 70 years, the Mercedes SL will finally offer AWD. When equipped, the AMG Performance 4MATIC+ AWD system that can actively modulate the final drive between the front and rear wheels as needed. You can also equip the SL with adjustable dampers and hydraulic roll stabilization for improved handling. This technology has the potential to control body roll without the usage of front or rear anti-roll bars.

There are six driving modes to choose from:

  • Comfort
  • Sport
  • Sport +
  • Slippery
  • Individual
  • Race

The optional front-axle lift system, which is a smart choice if you live in a location where you encounter steep driveways or bumpy roads frequently, can raise the front end by up to 1.2 inches. Once the system learns about your route, it will do this entire drill automatically whenever you approach that same spot. Another option that’s available is rear-wheel steering.

Standard on the SL63 and optional on the SL55, the AMG Dynamic Plus package will get you:

  • Electronic limited-slip differential
  • Dynamic engine mounts
  • A ’Race’ driving mode
  • Yellow painted brake calipers
  • A ride height lowered by 10 mm
Specifications
Engine  4.0-liter, Bi-turbo V-8
Horsepower (SL 55/SL 63) 469 / 577 hp
Torque (SL 55/SL 63) 516 / 590 lb-ft
Transmission AMG Nine-speed Automatic
Drive Layout 4MATIC+ All-wheel-drive System
0-60 mph (SL 55/SL 63) 3.8s / 3.5s (est.)

Exterior Design

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos Exterior
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On first appearance, you might think that the Mercedes SL was little more than a facelifted AMG GT Roadster or an upgraded version of the current SL. However, AMG has created a completely new roadster architecture based on a composite structure made up of cast aluminum, magnesium, and carbon fiber, that should help to provide the extra rigidity, necessary for a Roadster. The wheelbase is now about 4.5 inches longer than the outgoing model. No sheet metal from the previous SL or any other vehicle in Mercedes’ or AMG’s portfolio makes it onto the new SL’s body shell.

Styling-wise, Mercedes got the proportions just right. A long hood and stubby tail shout Roadster from a mile away. The Pan Americana face dominates the front end with a big three-pointed star in the center of the vertical slats on the grille. You also get some sexy swept-back full LED headlights. If chrome is your thing, the SL55 comes with a lot of brightwork but opt for one of the AMG night packages and you can black out all the chrome.

Don’t let the clean lines fool you because underneath that gorgeous body hides some really clever engineering. AMG prioritized aerodynamics when designing the new SL and the result is a drag coefficient of 0.31, which is exceptional for a roadster. That makes for better drivability, enhanced efficiency, and less wind noise.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos Exterior
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The front fascia is specifically designed to reduce lift while channeling air to the cooling modules further back. The two-piece AIR PANEL air control system consists of new electrically controlled vertical louvers buried behind the lower air intake in the front fascia that opens or closes automatically, when certain components reach specific temperatures.

On to the sides now and you can dress up your SL with either 20- and 21-inch sizes and minimize drag by reducing turbulence. The doors now feature retractable door handles that sit flush with the bodywork. Sitting on the fender, you have a plastic trim piece that is a design element that harks back to the old SL, where you’d find real air vents. The derrière features some snazzy LED tail-lights and the quad-exhaust tips do their bit to add some drama to the rear-end.

The retractable rear spoiler seamlessly integrates into the trunk lid and you won’t even notice it’s there when it’s not in use. Its position will automatically change depending on the driving conditions. It offers five different positions from 50 mph designed to maximize stability or reduce drag. The optional Aerodynamics package further enhances the aero properties of the SL. The rear spoiler expands 6.2 mph faster in positions One and Two.

AMG has gone to great lengths to make the underbody aerodynamics better. A 4.4-pound carbon component that’s mounted to the underbody in front extends downward by about 1.6 inches and alters the airflow beneath the vehicle, resulting in the Venturi effect and finally sucking the vehicle to the road reducing front-axle lift by around 110 pounds at 155 mph. So overall, while ’Form follows function’ is a cliché that’s overused these days, this is a phrase that perfectly fits in with the new SL Roadster.

Exterior Colors
Standard Colors Sun Yellow (Non-metallic)
Cirrus Silver
Obsidian Black
Selenite Grey
Starling Blue
Hyper Blue
Optional Colors MANUFAKTUR Monza Grey Magno
MANUFAKTUR Moonlight White Bright
MANUFAKTUR Moonlight White Magno
MANUFAKTUR Patagonia Red Metallic
MANUFAKTUR Starling Blue Magno
MANUFAKTUR Alpine Grey (Non-metallic)
Dimensions
Length 185.2 in
Width 75.4 in
Height 53.5 in
Wheelbase 106.3
Track Width 65.5 in (front) / 64.1 in (rear)
Cargo Space 7.5-8.5 cu-ft

Interior Quality and Technology

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos Interior
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Step inside and the new SL follows a strategy similar to that of the S-Class, which is no bad thing. Pretty much everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by high-quality surfaces and materials including, aluminum, wood, piano black, and leather. The dashboard is beautifully designed and the circular turbine-style air vents along with ambient lighting are highlights.

You get single-tone or two-tone Nappa leather, Nappa leather with Microfiber, or Nappa leather with diamond quilting for the standard seats. You can also choose between contrasting topstitching in yellow or red. Standard seat features include three massage programs and the AIRSCARF neck-level heating system.

AMG sports seats are standard throughout the lineup, while AMG Performance seats are optional. Jump seats are now standard equipment for the first time since the R129-generation, 1989 SL. Mercedes claims that these rear seats can accommodate people up to five feet tall, which means the seats are only ideal for youngsters or small adults.

Given how upright they are, these seats will make way for extra cargo space for the most part. Speaking of cargo, the SL has 8.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the roof up and 7.5 cubic feet with the roof down.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos Interior
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As for technology, the 11.9-inch vertical center screen comes straight from the S-Class and packs Mercedes’ latest MBUX software. It has support for wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto. All SLs feature a Burmester audio system but you can get the SL63 with a surround sound setup. The flat-bottom steering wheel features touch-sensitive buttons along with drive mode selectors and paddle shifters. Sitting behind the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display.

The new SL has some clever tricks up its sleeve. When the top is down, for example, that center display can swivel between 12 and 32 degrees to help reduce glare from the sun. We’ll continue to argue that the overall design drew inspiration from Jar Jar Binks, but it looks simply magnificent from every angle.

Finally, we come to the most important component of the SL and what makes it a Roadster, the folding soft top. Mercedes chose a high-quality triple-layer canvas roof over a traditional hard top, this time around. It is available in three colors, red, black and gray. The total weight of the roof arrangement is 46 pounds less than that of the previous-generation model’s retractable hard top.

The convertible top can open and closed in just 15 seconds and at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour. However, do keep in mind that there is no physical button to operate the soft top and you need to do it through the screen.

2023 Mercedes AMG SL Price and Availability

2023 Mercedes AMG SL Price
SL55 $135,000 (est)
SL63 $165,000 (est)

Mercedes hasn’t announced prices for the new SL just yet, but considering that the new SL is an all-new model in nearly a decade, you can expect it to carry a slight premium over the outgoing SL550. You can expect the entry-level 2023 AMG SL55 to start at an estimated $135,000 while the SL63 with the extra hardware and more power should cost somewhere in the ballpark of $165,000.

Main Competition

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL - Performance, Price and Photos
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Based on the estimated pricing, the Mercedes SL55 should take on rivals like the Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, the BMW 850i xDrive convertible,, and the Lexus LC 500 convertible. The top-spec SL63 will go up against the likes of more sporty convertibles like the Audi R8 Spyder and the Aston Martin V-8 Vantage Volante. Here’s how the base Model SL55 stacks up in terms of performance numbers against similarly priced cars.

To sum it up, the outgoing SL550 was starting to show its age and other models like the S-Class Cabriolet and the AMG GT Roadster began to question the SL’s purpose altogether. So in order to give it a fresh lease of life, Mercedes roped in their in-hose performance brand AMG to work their magic on the SL and the end results look promising.

Yes, this latest Mercedes SL is genuinely all-new and is now here to reclaim its place as the ultimate Mercedes Roadster. This might in fact be the last time that Merc develops an all-new platform around an internal combustion engine, so savor it.

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers a stick shift over an auto any day.  Read full bio
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