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2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 55 First Drive Review

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The roof is lowered, the windows and the windscreen are up. It’s cool, 58 degrees coastal outside, but inside, the chair-mounted Airscarf sheet is breathing the warm air on our necks, like a warm dog perched behind you on the sofa. At 75 mph, you can easily chat, while the adaptive suspension delivers an imminent refined and comfortable ride. At the end of the day, we traveled from Newport Beach to Palm Springs in comfort and style – the quintessential cruise and experience for a Mercedes SL.

Except this is a 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 55 and SL 63. No more “regular” styling, one with a zero at the end of the number. SL is not only offered exclusively in AMG variant, it was developed independently in Affalterbach by AMG. That makes it similar to the original SL, aka the Gullwing, which was produced almost 70 years ago after it was originally designed to race at Le Mans and other places. This isn’t, but its AMG roots and the expectations for those letters mean the new SL needs to meet a much stronger demand than an epic cruise from ocean to desert.

To that end, it’s underpinned by an all-new architecture with an aluminum composite structure integrated where magnesium, fiber composites and steel are present. The goal is to keep weight low and increase rigidity – indeed, the SL 2022 is structurally stiffer than both the old model and GT. A significant weight reduction also comes by reintroducing the soft top to the SL after two generations and 20 years with a retractable hardtop. Not only does this remove a whopping 46 pounds of weight from the car, it also lowers the center of gravity when facing upwards and overcomes the inherent dynamics problem of suddenly having that heavy roof lifted from the top. located outside the rear axle.

The suspension is also newly developed for the SL and is a first for mass production Mercedes equipped with a five-link front suspension. Five or more links is indeed a rarity in the industry as a whole, with New Porsche GT3 among those so equipped. The only SL with all five links is arranged entirely inside the wheel rims, which AMG says significantly improves dynamics, but we unfortunately weren’t able to dig deeper into how exactly. There are five links in the back, which is less unusual.

Shock absorbers vary by model. The SL 55 is equipped with the latest generation AMG Ride Control adjustable damping system with two pressure relief valves on each damper. One control recovers, the other compresses, allowing the two to be controlled independently of each other. This makes it possible to maximize comfort and increase traction.

We were very impressed. After experiencing a dense highway ride for the first time, a blast through winding roads near Mount Palomar reveals that this is more than just an epic touring, SL country club. The suspension in the Sport+ is really firm to stay flat especially through corners, but not so much that it becomes tiresome or wobbles the chassis on impact. Grip is exceptional, backed by Michelin Pilot Sport and standard all-wheel drive (this is the first SL to offer AWD). The SL 55 is balanced and doesn’t feel too big like the previous SL or the SLS is more like a Batmobile than a roadster. And while it’s probably just a matter of perception due to the larger cabin, you don’t feel as drawn in and sunk behind the wheel as you do in the GT. It all results in a car that feels more approachable and light, with a light steering if it feels comfortable, benefiting from the relatively small 2.5 degrees of standard rear-wheel steering. While you’ll certainly notice the agility as a result of the SL, the RWS doesn’t draw attention to itself in its physics-defying, Disney-like steering feel of larger cars with the wheelbase. after is bigger like Mercedes EQS.

After spending the whole morning behind the wheel of the SL 55, it’s hard to imagine how the SL 63 could really pull the plug in the afternoon. Turns out it really isn’t. Aside from the engine, which we’ll mention in a moment, the SL 63 differentiates itself by effectively including the SL 55’s standard AMG Dynamic Plus package. This reduces the suspension by 10mm and adds a new System. newly developed AMG hydraulic active control suspension. This has various adaptive dampers, interconnected in a complex hydraulic network (e.g. the forward left damper’s compression stage is connected to the valve’s recovery stage). right throttle) and the hydraulic elements normally replace the SL 55 mechanical anti-roll bars. This should theoretically reduce rolling further, improve turn accuracy and allow “driver and passenger (to) a significantly more comfortable driving experience.”

In our experience no. Despite sharing the same wheel sizes and tyres, plus driving on comparable roads and surfaces, the SL 63 produces much louder noise through the steering wheel, with greater vibration and occasional stutters. can feel the noise through the front axle. It’s like a significantly less refined car, and if there was a dynamic advantage to be found, we certainly wouldn’t have noticed it at the incorrect speeds we were driving. If we had only driven the 63, we probably wouldn’t have understood it, but we’d certainly have preferred to drive the SL 55.

It’s a similar story under the hood. Both SLs feature AMG’s familiar 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, receiving a new oil pan, repositioned intercooler, active crankcase ventilation and a reworked exhaust for service. for the new SL. It makes 469 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque on the SL 55, while higher boost pressure, greater airflow, and revised software result in the SL 63 version making 577 horsepower 590 lb-ft of force and torque. It hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, compared to 3.8 at 55, and honestly, it feels like a bigger difference than that. You fully notice the extra strength, find yourself going too fast and with greater frequency.

Basically, like other AMG 63s, it seems like overkill. The SL 55 is enough of a goon in terms of acceleration and character. It has the same engine, after all, with the usual buttery-smooth power delivery and the constant, deep exhaust. There’s some banging when overrunning in Sport modes, but it’s not overdone. It’s not foolish foolish foolish every time you take off – it’s more mature than that – but it still makes a bwap with forklift.

The visual differences between the two are minimal and, if you don’t mind the expense of removing the 63’s Night pack’s darkened decorations, are virtually non-existent beyond the badge and brake callipers color (red 55, yellow 63, yellow for carbon ceramic optional available on both). We can’t say that’s actually a bad thing as slapping a bunch of carbon bits quickly will only ruin what is a clean and beautiful design. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to describe a Mercedes SL like that.

A big reason the design is so neat and clean, besides avoiding the bloat needed to swallow a retractable hardtop, is the innovative active aerodynamics on both cars. Vertical vents behind the lower grille and transverse vents behind the star-shaped Panamerica grille remain closed in most cases to reduce drag and direct air towards the underbody for further reduction in lift. At the rear, there’s a subtle four-channel diffuser and an active rear spoiler that automatically adjusts to five angles based on speed to achieve the best balance of drag/efficiency and stability. depending on speed and driving situation. The steepest angle obviously achieves the greatest downforce and thus allows the best possible line hold and can be selected individually.

Additional downforce can be achieved with the Aerodynamics package, which enables the spoiler to pop up earlier and achieve a steeper maximum angle. It also has an enlarged rear diffuser and larger “lights” on the bumpers, but the big ticket entry can’t really be seen. First seen on AMG GTR, the “active aerodynamic profile” is a piece of carbon a few inches from the leading edge of the bumper that can automatically extend downwards at 50 or 62 mph depending on the driving mode. It uses what’s essentially the “Venturi effect” to draw the car into the road and reduce front-axle lift by up to 110 pounds at 155 mph. Supposedly, this can be felt in the steering wheel even at lower speeds, although we didn’t get a chance to test an SL with this package.

The interior isn’t particularly groundbreaking, with design and feature content matching the rest of the Mercedes lineup, plus the improved MBUX interface shared with the new model. S-Class. That means it shares the portrait-oriented touchscreen, but adds a necessary wrinkle in the form of an articulating kickstand that can adjust the screen angle as needed from 12 to 32 degrees to avoid direct sunlight. sky into your eyes, or as we discovered, have the infotainment system replaced with a mirror image of your passenger’s portrait.

And speaking of passengers, you can now carry more of them. Something like… they could be dogs, and little ones like that. Or those who really need a fairly short ride and don’t mind handling the back seat at a sharp angle. Oh, and the stuff in front similarly would have to be very short for even the short ones in the back to fit. So why bother? Well, even if not particularly suitable for human transport, the additional interior space for small bags or dogs really makes the SL a more livable, everyday and perhaps important vehicle. rather than weekend excursions. It certainly doesn’t take away from the car’s dynamic talent, and let’s not forget that Porsche 911 there is a similar vestibular rear seat.

The extra seats also give the Mercedes-AMG GT a differentiator, despite the fact that the two cars are still horribly similar. So we asked the inevitable question: What does the new SL mean for GT? The answer lies in what’s coming for the next-gen GT, which will be a more powerful, track-ready version. sport car. Ironically, it will be less than the GT. Meanwhile, at least the current GT can take its hat off when it still offers hardtop coupe versions, including the extreme Black Series.

Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but it will definitely be north of SL 550 ($11,755) and possibly south of the more powerful GT Roadster ($131,750). SL 63 has more power than all GT C Roadster, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see it higher than that car’s $166,150 starting price. If so, that would be horribly steep for a car we like less than the arguably less-than-stellar SL 55. It’s suspenseful enough to satisfy its newly launched AMG line-up and more liveable to live up to the SL’s big touring expectations.

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