The camouflage isn’t quite Super Light yet, but these official pre-production photos give us our best look yet at the 2021 Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster.
Development of the seventh-generation model is being led by AMG, with the SL to share its Modular Sports Architecture with the next-generation Mercedes-AMG GT.
The two models are expected to share components such as their suspension, steering systems, hybrid drivetrains and 48V electric architecture.
The GT influence is also clear in the SL’s styling, from its curvaceous hindquarters to its long bonnet.
Unlike the past two generations of SL, the seventh-generation will return to using a soft-top and be officially called the SL Roadster. Retractable hardtops have become déclassé in Mercedes world, with the SLC getting the axe and recent drop-tops like the E-Class and S-Class using soft-tops.
The switch to a fabric roof has also allowed Mercedes designers to pen a much tighter rear for the SL while it should help engineers to make this a lighter, sportier SL than before. The SL is also expected to retain aluminium construction.
Though the seventh-generation SL promises to be lighter than the outgoing model, it’s expected to be more practical. That’s because it should add two seats in the rear, making this the first 2+2 SL since the SLC coupe version of the third-generation model.
The 2021 range is expected to open with the Mercedes-Benz SL450 and Mercedes-AMG SL 53, which will use turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-six engines with 48V EQ Boost mild-hybrid systems. The SL450 and SL 53 should have combined outputs of 272kW and 337kW, respectively.
Above these will sit the Mercedes-AMG SL500 and Mercedes-AMG SL 63 that we understand will use AMG’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 mated to the EQ Boost system.
Mercedes first introduced the SL in 1954, the same year the W180-series line that’s widely regarded as the first S-Class debuted. Both models launched a year after the W120-series, the E-Class’s ancestor.
The E-Class and S-Class monikers weren’t used for many years, however, while the SL name has been used continuously since 1954. It initially appeared on a coupe – the iconic gullwing 300 SL – before the debut of the 190 SL the following year.
After the gullwing’s demise in 1957, all SL-badged models have been rear-wheel drive convertibles, making the SL remarkably consistent for such a long-running nameplate.