The arrival of a new Mercedes SL is always something of an event simply because they don't happen all that often - roughly every 10 years or so, in fact. Think of how much an A-Class has changed since 2011 and it's clear how long a decade really is life cycle terms. For 2021, and largely in keeping with the schedule - because the R230 was launched at the end of 2001, the R231 the start of 2012 - there's a new SL due, and this is our best look at it yet.
Obviously the big news for this generation will be the return of a soft-top, seen here in what's believed to be production trim and replacing the folding hardtop used in previous generations. The styling is substantially altered too, again something that's become familiar with the SL given how long each version remains on sale. Now there's a clear AMG GT influence as well, with lights and grilles - even the active rear spoiler - seemingly inspired by the smaller sports car.
That said, elsewhere there are also elements obviously shared with the rest of the current Mercedes range; the Panamericana debuted on the GT facelift, but has also been seen on the four-door GT, G-Class and C63, for example. The yellow paint could have come straight from an A45 and the four exhausts will be familiar to anyone who's followed a recent AMG V8 and heard it rumble away.
In fact, exhausts are a good way to tell these two prototypes apart. Note the car only pictured from the rear has red paint rather than yellow. It also doesn't have the retractable spoiler, and four much rounder tailpipes. That's because this is believed to be an SL53 AMG, sitting below the 4.0-litre V8 SL63 in the range for the first time. Like other models with the badge - E-Class, CLS, GLE and so on - the SL53 will be powered by an electrified straight six. It currently provides 435hp and 384lb ft through its combination of turbocharged, petrol 3.0-litre and EQ Boost starter generator, so expect the same if not more here. It seems likely that the rest of the SL range will feature hybridised powertrains, though of course there will be no V12 this time around.
As for when it'll be seen without disguise, a lavish motor show debut like the good old days seems unlikely in 2021. Instead it'll probably be shown virtually towards the end of the year, or at least in a more subdued setting than there would have been in LA or Frankfurt. Best get prepared for lots of new tech, as is often the way with a new SL. But, if these pics are anything to go be, a look that will be reassuringly familiar.
Image credit | S.Baldauf/S.B.Medien
1 / 6