The next Mercedes-Benz SL is set to be built on the same platform as the AMG GT models, in a move aimed at providing with the new roadster with added performance potential and dynamic flair following dwindling sales of the current model.
The switch in platform follows a decision by Mercedes to hand the lead engineering responsibilities for the new SL to AMG, which has secretly been developing the upmarket roadster at its Stuttgart headquarters in a development programme running parallel to its own GT roadster, first revealed at the Paris motor show in September.
The shared platform will provide AMG with greater economies of scale in development, production procurement and engineering operations, according to sources familiar with the German car maker’s future new model plans.
They say the decision to twin the SL with the GT has allowed AMG to channel resources into further derivatives of the GT, including a planned hard-core Black Series model that will sit above the recently introduced GT R at the very top of the Mercedes-Benz performance car division’s line-up when it is launched later this decade.
Arriving in 2019
Scheduled for introduction in 2019, the new rear-wheel drive SL will adopt the same underpinnings as the two-year-old GT coupe and its more recent roadster with a front longitudinally mounted engine and transaxle mounted at the rear for optimal weight distribution.
The new driveline layout replaces the more conventional E-Class based set-up used in the past two generations of the SL.
In further synergies between the SL and the GT line-up, the new upmarket roadster is also set to feature a specially tuned version of its AMG sibling’s largely aluminium double wishbone suspension system, with the likelihood of an optional Air Body Control set-up with multi chamber air plungers featuring on selected models.
Despite the common mechanical base, the new SL is planned to receive a less dramatic cab backwards silhouette than the GT roadster with the A-pillars set further forward to provide it with longer and more versatile interior.
Autocar can also confirm the new SL will also receive an aluminium body structure and the carbon fibre torque tube from the GT in a move, insiders suggest, will see a substantial reduction in kerb weight in an effort aimed at providing the new model, which goes under the internal codename R233, with vastly improved performance and economy.
Further weight saving has come from a decision to replace the existing model’s folding aluminium roof structure with a more traditional fabric hood as part of an extensive restyle for the eighth incarnation of the classic Mercedes-Benz model, whose roots can be traced back to the original SL launch in 1954.
Plans to resurrect the SL coupe
Along with the SL roadster, Mercedes is also mulling plans for resurrection of the SL coupe. If approved, the eighth-generation SL will be the first to feature such a model since the fourth-generation SL in 1981.