New 2021 Mercedes SL convertible steps out as E-Class test hack

Published: 24 June 2019

► New Mercedes SL convertible
► Latest scoop photos and intel
► Developed by AMG, twinned with GT

This is our first glimpse of the new eighth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL convertible, historically the most prestigious pinnacle of the three-pointed star’s range. It is due to launch in 2021.

So far we have only spotted this platform and powertrain mule testing under the body of a shorter Mercedes E-Class; we expect to see the latest prototype testing in production bodyshells this winter.

Tellingly, the car maker is twinning this two-door with AMG’s next-generation GT coupe and roadster, to get better economies of scale. This should mean, by extension, that the SL will be a sharper steer although Merc will be sure to tune it for more boulevardier duties than its more focused twin from Affalterbach.

Next Mercedes SL gets 4wd, plug-in PHEV hybrid skills and a soft top

AMG chief Tobias Moers is on record in an interview calling the new SL-Class ‘far sportier’ than today’s model, adding that it will have a ‘perfect compromise between driving dynamics and comfort because it’s still kind of a cruiser, too.’

The tech onboard: Merc SL gets aluminium body, 4wd

The new SL and AMG GT share a new aluminium body which is light and stiff enough so that both roadsters are well prepared for the more emotional canvas-top roof treatments. The days of a folding metal roof are over, according to our sources.

Twinning these two means the departure of the coveted transaxle layout. On the bright side, mating engine and transmission makes room for the 4Matic all-wheel drive system. 

New 2021 Mercedes-Benz SL spy photos

Electric plug-in SLs and more

Electrification plays a big role in the gestation of the two sports cars masterminded by AMG. While the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle option (PHEV) offers a zero-emission range of 30 miles, the EQ Boost technology reserved for the top-of-the-line version boasts a 250kW electric power pack that straddles the differential. 

We’re told the e-motors and batteries warrant almost exactly the same weight distribution as the transaxle layout. While AMG keeps the trademark V8, the SL models make do with the straight six (plus e-power) and there’ll be a four-cylinder on steroids powertrain available too.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel