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Mercedes-AMG SL lands with 585hp – and four seats!

All-new roadster mixes turbo V8 power with all-wheel drive and space for the kids. Or golf clubs

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After years of development and no shortage of teaser images, Mercedes-AMG has revealed its all-new SL Roadster to sit at the very top of its range. Picking up from where the last SL model left off in 2020, the 2022 machine exits the gates with a 585hp top model, but even more significant than that muscular power output is the addition of two rear seats and all-wheel drive. It means this new SL – given the cute internal name, R232, by the boffins at Mercedes’ performance arm, AMG – is an altogether more practical proposition, whether you have children or, indeed, golf clubs to carry.

For a brand with such an extensive portfolio of platforms to base its cars from, for AMG to develop its new range-topper with a wholly unique base is telling of its significance. Few people would have bat an eyelid if Mercedes-AMG evolved a structure from another model – say, the AMG GT, or even its S-Class saloon – to produce this luxury convertible car. But this project started with a blank sheet of paper, enabling engineers to create a car with the fewest design compromises possible. Everything that’s gone into this SL exists specifically for the SL. Blimey.

Well, not absolutely everything, because the twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine that powers it is familiar from other models in the Mercedes range. But it’s a tremendous work of engineering genius, providing monumental power, effortless supplies of low-down thrust and the sort of soundtrack that'll send vibrations through your stomach. Think tropical thunderstorm combined with the belch of a giant from Nordic mythology and you get the idea. We’re happy AMG didn’t opt to use something else in this otherwise all-new package. On that subject…

The new platform – or skeleton, if you like – of the 2022 SL is 50% stiffer than that of the AMG GT convertible sports car, Mercedes’ most comparable alternative. What this sort of advantage translates into for your drive on the road is better ride quality, lower road noise and, key in an AMG model, better handling. In days gone by, convertible cars used to feel a little saggy compared with their hard-top equivalents because of the lack of upper material, but this SL promises to feel solid as a rock. Or maybe that should be boulder, because at 1,950kg this is one hefty machine.

Mind you, it’ll feel a whole lot lighter than that number because of Mercedes’s clever suspension technology, all-wheel steering and, of course, those tremendous reserves of power. Even the ‘base’ SL gets 476hp, enough to accelerate the car to 62mph in 3.9 seconds, which given the level of luxury and plushness aboard this car, is pretty astounding. With that AMG badge stuck on its boot, this SL promises supercar-aping performance, but thanks to its rank atop Mercedes’ range, it’ll have to build on the opulence and ease-of-use of its predecessor. No doubt Mercedes will have moved the game in those departments to ensure it does.

Many of the SL’s most significant new features are in the cabin, where a rotating infotainment touchscreen – something not seen before in the industry – can be angled to a driver’s preference. We imagine that’ll be as useful at preventing reflections appearing in direct sunlight as it will be making drivers of different shapes and sizes comfortable. Also new is the addition of two small rear seats to an SL cabin. Not even Mercedes tries to describe these seats as anything other than appropriate for children. The manufacturer does suggest they’ll also hold a golf bag, if that’s your preference, while the boot is big enough to swallow two more golf bags. That’s even when the roof is folded down and takes away some storage space. Impressive, if lots of golf bags is your thing.

The folding roof is, interestingly, fabric, rather than metal like the last SL’s. This is partly to do with saving weight – 21kg to be exact – and lowering the car’s centre of gravity, which is good for handling. But it’ll also be related to the fact that fabric technology has moved on leaps and bounds, so metal convertible roofs just aren’t as necessary in ensuring low road noise and greater comfort these days. Plus, some people quite like the traditional lines of a car that more honestly wears a folding top. Us included. Doesn’t the SL look fantastic?

It's instantly recognisable as a Mercedes, and one that hails from the AMG department at that, but the SL’s design is also totally new. It looks angry and purposeful up front, but also quite graceful and posh at the back. There is an electronically-lifting rear spoiler that rises when you get up to higher speeds (those familiar with downforce will know that these things help to keep cars planted to the ground), but otherwise the rear’s lines are nice and clean. The bass of those four exhaust tailpipes ought to do all the talking this car needs. Not that we need to hear it start up to be utterly mesmerised by the prospect of SL ownership.

If you feel the same way, sales will open next year. Can’t wait that long? cinch does have a gorgeous 2019 Mercedes-Benz SL in stock, here. With only 11,341 miles on the clock, and a price tag of £53,950, in SL terms, we’re of the opinion that’s an absolute bargain. What say you?