New 2021 Mercedes SL: luxury convertible to return

Published: 17 March 2020

Mercedes' new SL convertible
Soft top, hybrid power and here in 2021
► Developed by AMG, twinned with GT

One of Mercedes’ most legendary model names is making a comeback, as Stuttgart prepares an all-new generation of SL convertible, heading for a 2021 debut.

The new Mercedes SL will follow an illustrious line of grand touring drop tops, but the times are changing. As the market for convertibles shrinks, product plans have had to think on their feet to keep the name alive.

Going soft on top

Mercedes SL hardtop

The new-generation SL will return to a soft-top convertible roof instead of the folding hardtop – the ‘Vario Roof’ of the old one will be binned. Why? That’s down to the all-new aluminium structure; so light and strong is the SL’s new architecture that a much more torsionally rigid hardtop isn’t required. And, of course, the soft-top itself will save weight over a metal one, too.

Sun’s out, plug in

Along with plans for Euro-7 compliant V8s, an EQ Power plug-in hybrid SL could be part of the mix, badged SL73. The powertrain is expected to make its official debut in the AMG GT four-door later in 2020, combining the 630bhp M178 twin-turbo V8 with e-motors on both axles for around 800bhp(!) in total.

Doing the maths

Convertible and sports car sales are dwindling, but so keen was Mercedes to keep the SL alive that it’s worked the maths to add up. The new car will share its new platform with the next-generation AMG GT – strictly a two-seater, unlike the SL’s 2+2 arrangement – while the overlapping two-door E-Class and S-Class models are to be axed.

Going up a notch

Maybach Concept 6

As the world’s richest get richer, so the high-end luxury market is booming. The Mercedes-Maybach GLS (a big-money, ultra-luxe version of Merc's biggest SUV) was just the start. Don’t be surprised to see a ritzier, glitzier Maybach SL, possibly with sumptuous design details pinched from the Concept 6 (above).

Boss of AMG on the new SL

‘It’s kind of a burden to be responsible for the SL, but we had to make sure this iconic car had a bright future,’ AMG boss, Tobias Moers told CAR.

‘The weight of responsibility is heavy but what we’re doing is good. We are taking the new all-aluminium SL back to its roots: more sporty but also better for everyday use.’

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By Georg Kacher and Ben Miller

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