With the new edition of the Mercedes SL the dynamics specialists of AMG have the scepter in the hand. A first ride shows what effect this has.
Stuttgart – "You see, the car remains absolutely stable," beams Jochen Hermann, at the same time moving the steering wheel slightly to the left. The Mercedes SL immediately moves in the specified direction and, as if drawn with the famous compass, the roadster hurries through the curve. Now it's time to go in the other direction. The notorious load change, which causes many a car to dance unintentionally. Not the Mercedes roadster. A slight countermovement of the steering wheel. The SL follows its course unimpressed. A slight countermovement of the steering wheel. The SL follows its course unimpressed. No steering, no bobbing, no major tilt. The front end remains stable even at brisk cornering speeds, which suggests that roll stabilization is in place. "I can't say anything about that yet," grins the AMG technical chief. (Mercedes is now building on electric – boss announces job cuts)
New Mercedes SL: This is how dynamic the fabric-roof roadster will be
Hermann also keeps a low profile when it comes to the engine options. When asked about the sonorous roar, he says mischievously, "If you want a V8, you want a sound like that.". So the lightly camouflaged vehicle is likely to be a '63 AMG, pounding the rear axle with around 600 hp. In its own special way, it contributes to the roadster's transverse dynamics by dancing along in a controlled manner. "In Sport plus driving mode, we let them off the leash a little more," says Jochen Hermann, before making a relaxed 180-degree turn in one go. Aha, so the new SL also has rear-axle steering. The Mercedes-AMG SL of the R 232 series, on the other hand, will not have a hammer twelve-cylinder engine. If you want to be at the top of the roadster food chain, you should go for the hybrid version, which should easily crack the 700 hp mark. (Mercedes E 450 4matic Cabrio in test: This makes it extra strong when overtaking)
For the Affalterbach tuning division, one thing was clear: "We're taking the car back to where it came from and making it a sports car suitable for everyday use," clarifies Jochen Hermann. So away from the comfortable, but still somewhat sedate current model. The fabric roof, which does not use magnesium panels, is visual proof of the back-to-the-roots paradigm shift. Sounds simple, but is anything but trivial. "For me, a sports car has to behave in a precise, predictable and repeatable way," says the engineer, giving an insight into the priorities of the specification book. (Mercedes beats Tesla – most advanced autopilot to date close to production readiness)
New Mercedes SL: Use of lightweight materials such as aluminum and magnesium
A key lever in achieving these goals is the chassis, in which the AMG engineers have invested heavily. It helps that Jochen Hermann's team started developing the roadster five years ago on "a blank sheet of paper". This already starts with the new architecture, which consists of a combination of an aluminum spaceframe with a self-supporting structure. The targeted use of various lightweight materials such as aluminum, magnesium and fiber composites gives the engineers the ability to breathe the desired dynamics into the vehicle.
The software, together with the experience of the technicians, helps to define the driving behavior. Because for the SL, the maxim of the sporty glider applies – and that in every situation. We also feel this when switching through the different driving programs. In Sport plus, the SL tightens noticeably without becoming too hard. On bad roads, the chassis doesn't react in a rumbling or gruff manner. Even transverse joints do not cause the chassis to lose its composure. Only an extensive test drive can reveal more details. In the dynamic setting, the eight-cylinder engine makes its audible presence heard in typical AMG fashion. In Comfort mode, the body isn't as uncompromisingly tethered, but it doesn't teeter annoyingly. It was important to the head of technology when tuning the new Mercedes-AMG SL: First a perfect setting of the chassis, before the refinement is tackled by software. (Motorway race at 305 km/h: Mercedes-AMG racer shoots selfie video)
New Mercedes SL: "A battle for every millimeter"
The switch from the folding roof to the fabric roof has some consequences. To make room for the hood and the two seats of the two-plus-two seater, the transmission has been moved to the front directly behind the engine. The rear-axle steering also takes up installation space, which is thus gained. Speaking of installation space. "The car was a fight for every millimeter," says Jochen Hermann, pointing to the flat flared wheel arch of the front fender. "That's what the designers want – and the engineers need the space for the chassis," Hermann says, illustrating the struggle between the two carmaking factions. The compromise is a success. Plus the AMG-mandatory Panamericana grille and active aerodynamics.
You can find even more exciting car topics in our free newsletter, which you can subscribe to right here.
New Mercedes SL: Market launch early next year
The interior of the new SL borrows from the S-Class with a vertical display, but without falling into the ad opulence of the luxury cruiser. The instrument display in particular is significantly smaller, and the tilt of the central 11.9-inch touchscreen above the center console can be adjusted at the touch of a button so that the displays can be read in all light and sun conditions. The scenario is complemented by the sports steering wheel with its three double spokes with the touch pads and the round buttons for the driving modes and the dampers are located.
As befits its status, one takes a seat on seats covered with fine quilted leather, and the applications of piano lacquer or chrome complete the noble impression. If your mouth is watering now, you should start saving up, because the new edition of the icon, which will be launched early next year, certainly won't be a bargain.