The spy shots reveal that the prototype bears a strong resemblance to that which featured in official images released by Mercedes earlier this year. For the first time the roadster's removable roof can be seen undisguised it shows a clear family resemblance to the AMG GT.
The SL is set to be revived as a lighter, faster and more engaging model inspired by the brand’s motorsport roots, explains why the AMG performance division is working on the development of the vehicle. For the first time, AMG is working on the development of any SL across its previous seven generations.
The SL shows off a long, sloping bonnet, prominent rear haunches and an angular front grille design. The rounded rear end is similar to that of the Mercedes-AMG GT sports car, which will share a platform with the SL in its next iteration. The SL will go on sale around 2021 and will be placed alongside the next AMG GT. The duo shares the same aluminium-intensive platform, known as the Modular Sports Architecture (MSA).
The eighth-generation SL would be offered only as a roadster, like its predecessor. It is expected to go on sale in the UK towards the end of 2021. However, for India, the company hasn't given a word yet.
Apart from sharing a common platform structure, the SL and GT sports cars are expected to share axle assemblies, suspension, steering systems, 48V electric architecture and hybrid drivetrains, among other components, in a move to cut costs and boost production efficiency.
Early prototypes of the new SL were spied testing on track with the new platform underneath a shortened S-class Coupe body. They gave away little about the car’s mechanical set-up, which is rumored to run a transaxle arrangement with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox integrated within the rear axle assembly, like on the GT.
The overall dimensions of the engineering mules suggest the production version will be slightly larger than the existing SL, which is 4630mm long, 1870mm wide and 1310mm tall. It's not clear what material the roof is made from, but camouflage on previous prototypes suggests that it will arrive with a traditional fabric hood in place of the folding hard-top arrangement as seen in the previous generation.
It is also expected that Mercedes will provide the 2020 SL with a 2+2 seating layout. Talking of practicality the company is trying to make rear seats capable of accommodating adults for short journeys or, alternatively, luggage as an extension of its boot.
Mercedes plans to offer the SL with a limited range of hybridized in-line six-cylinder and V8 petrol engines in a line-up that’s likely to include both standard and AMG models. The range starts from SL-450 EQ Boost model running a turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder developing around 365bhp, along with an added 22bhp in combination with an integrated starter motor.
The SL-53, which will run a more powerful AMG-tuned version of the SL-450 EQ Boost’s mild-hybrid drivetrain with around 430bhp and added 22bhp through electric assistance.
Among the V8-powered models will be the SL-500 EQ Boost. It is due to receive a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with a similar power output to the SL-53, but significantly more torque. The range-topper SL-63 is expected to be offered in two states of tune, with the most powerful model running a 4.0-liter Turbo V8 (bi-turbo?) capable of in excess of 600bhp and more than 30bhp of electric boost. It is unclear if Mercedes will continue with the V12-powered SL.
All engines for the new SL will come as standard with Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic gearbox, with the AMG variants set to adopt the Speedshift electronics package for faster shift times. However, what is not clear yet is will the SL be offered with a 4Matic four-wheel drive alongside the standard rear-wheel drive.
The SL Class will faceoff the Porsche Boxster, Porsche 911, Audi R8, BMW M8, Jaguar F-Type, its own sibling the AMG GT.