Currently reading: Next Mercedes-Benz SL will return to sporting roots
The upcoming SL will look to draw inspiration from its legendary predecessor
News
3 mins read
25 May 2020

The next Mercedes-Benz SL, which is due to be revealed next year, will hark back to the original model of the 1950s more than any generation that followed, according to Daimler’s chief design officer.

Speaking to Autocar, Gorden Wagener admitted that he’s “not a fan of retro designs”, so the new SL won’t wholly revive the two-seat, gullwing look of the formative car. However, he said that the SL is moving away from the GT-style roadster ethos of the past few decades, returning to its sporting roots. To this end, AMG is heavily involved in its development.

“For me, the most beautiful SL is the original, the 300,” said Wagener. “And I think we’ve taken some of that DNA, starting with the proportions, the surface treatment, things like that. In that respect, the new SL is probably the closest to the first one ever.”

Our best sighting yet of the new Porsche 911 Cabriolet rival has been of a prototype with a cover half-removed at a research and development facility in Germany. This spy shot (below) shows that the car retains its classic long bonnet and cab-back profile but uses a fabric convertible roof instead of the current SL’s folding metal item.

Its platform will be adapted by AMG for the next AMG GT but, when asked if there will be any crossover between the two, Wagener said: “The GT is more of a race car and the SL is more of a sports car. You will clearly see the differences.”

Wagener also discussed the next S-Class, which will be shown towards the end of 2020. He described the model as a “milestone in design” and a “digital S-Class of the next decade” but admitted it will evolve Mercedes’ existing design language rather than lead it into a new era.

He said: “Back in the old days, the S-Class invented a new kind of style every time for the rest of the brand. But that was back when we only had three models, and it’s impossible to do now. There are still a lot of people who love the S-Class how it is, so that’s probably the last car we would want to change [radically].”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Kuga 2020 road test review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    Car review
    SUV practicality, Focus underpinnings, plug-in hybrid tech: is this another...
  • Alpina B3 2020 first drive review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    First Drive
    Bavaria's alternative M3 gets an added injection of performance and...
  • Hyundai i30 N 2020 UK first drive review - hero front
    2 July 2020
    First Drive
    Suspension tweaks aim to make the Hyundai hot hatch a more usable daily...

Read our review

Car review
Mercedes-Benz SL

The Mercedes SL is perhaps the most splendid, single-minded luxury convertible in the world

Back to top

Wagener said the most “progressive aspect” will be the interior, where his team has put “even more emphasis on the digital side”. Spy shots show prototypes have a Tesla-style portrait touchscreen dominating the dashboard.

The Mercedes-Maybach version will continue to serve the ultra-luxury segment, too, but Wagener said its focus is on “traditional luxury values: craftsmanship, materials and so on” rather than just tech.

The Maybach won’t be the only different version of the S-Class: an all-electric EQS model is due in 2022 to sit at the top of Mercedes’ EQ range, above the EQE, an E-Class-equivalent saloon. The EQS will look “radically different from normal S-Classes”, according to Wagener, and will target “a lot of different customers”.

“Our Vision concepts have always been 80-90% close to the production car,” he said. “So that will have completely different proportions. It’s a very innovative vehicle.”

READ MORE:

Mercedes to reduce model line-up, platforms and powertrains

Mercedes to launch 32 new models by 2022 in massive rollout

Facelifted Mercedes E-Class gains new engines and interior tech

Join the debate

Comments
6

25 May 2020

Mercedes and AMG are getting too much into each others business imo. There's no need for a CLS and an AMG GT4, and there will be no need for both a " sporty " SL and an AMG GT Roadster.

 

For me, and I believe for most people, the best SL is/was the 89 R129 SL. That's the one they should try to emulate. Leave the sportiness to AMG, and make a real GT instead.

25 May 2020
tuga wrote:

Mercedes and AMG are getting too much into each others business imo. There's no need for a CLS and an AMG GT4, and there will be no need for both a " sporty " SL and an AMG GT Roadster.

 

For me, and I believe for most people, the best SL is/was the 89 R129 SL. That's the one they should try to emulate. Leave the sportiness to AMG, and make a real GT instead.

Precisely, the sporting SL is the AMG-GT

When Mercedes replaced the 300SL with the 230SL Pagoda, SL became a 'boulevadier' (I am not being derogatory) to be enjoyed at leisure rather than driven hard. The next model R107 is for me the iconic SL, it ran for 18 years, with small incremental changes its simple handsome classic lines were kept fresh looking and yet never date. 

25 May 2020

but the original SL was a gullwing race car with a tubular frame, put into production after public demand from America.

The SL soft top was built because demand for the hardtop was waining in the US, and it was seen as a way to re-boost sales.  

So which one is he making a sports car, or a race car, he seems confused. 

25 May 2020

The new SL will be a 'sports car' i.e. in English - the ride will be sh1t.

25 May 2020

The original 300SL Gullwing may be my personal favorite automobile design of all time. Elegant, aggressive, and unique. I can only imagine what the average person thought when they first saw one in the mid 1950s. I thought the subsequent "Pagoda" was also a knockout. The R107 is where it morphed into more of a "lifestyles of the rich and famous" boulevarder to me. The R129 was a sensation, again a technical tour de force and timeless design. Since then...nah. We shall see with the forthcoming model. As far as the AMG/M-B overlap, it's akin to the way BMW had diluted the "M" brand; slap a badge on every model and the specialness evaporates and the original focus and intent has waned.

25 May 2020
frarob wrote:

 I thought the subsequent "Pagoda" was also a knockout.

That's the one I'd like to see influence the next SL

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Ford Kuga 2020 road test review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    Car review
    SUV practicality, Focus underpinnings, plug-in hybrid tech: is this another...
  • Alpina B3 2020 first drive review - hero front
    3 July 2020
    First Drive
    Bavaria's alternative M3 gets an added injection of performance and...
  • Hyundai i30 N 2020 UK first drive review - hero front
    2 July 2020
    First Drive
    Suspension tweaks aim to make the Hyundai hot hatch a more usable daily...