Mercedes-Benz AMG shows off lighter, stiffer body of next SL-Class

Mercedes-Benz will unveil a new generation of the legendary SL-Class later this year, and on Wednesday the automaker showed off the car’s body shell.

The new SL is the seventh member of a lineage that dates back to the original 300SL gullwing race car of 1952, and the first to be developed by the Mercedes-Benz AMG performance skunkworks.

AMG has developed the car alongside a new generation of its own GT sports car, with the SL set to replace the current GT Roadster, hence the reason it’s being classified as an AMG product this time around. As a result, expect the new SL to be more performance-focused than past generations.

Both the new SL and next-generation GT are clean-sheet designs, based on an AMG-developed rear-wheel-drive platform for sports cars dubbed MSA (Modular Sports Architecture). The platform features space-frame construction relying on a mix of aluminum, magnesium and composites for the body shell, with thicker cast aluminum components used for nodal points where forces will be stronger.

Compared to the outgoing SL, Mercedes boasts increased torsional stiffness of 18% and a lower center of gravity. Transverse and longitudinal rigidity are also up 50% and 40%, respectively, over the current GT Roadster. The weight of the body shell minus the doors, hood and trunk lid is 595 pounds.

The new specs are particularly impressive given the additional packaging requirements of the new SL over its predecessor, as well as the GT Roadster it’s set to replace. Not only did the engineers have to accommodate 2+2 seating and space for the automated folding soft-top, but also new drive concepts including all-wheel drive and electrified powertrains.

One of the powertrains is expected to be an 800-plus-hp plug-in hybrid setup in an SL73 model. However at launch we’re likely to see mild-hybrid SL53 and SL63 models only.

Production of the new SL will take place at Mercedes’ plant in Bremen, Germany, where the current generation is built. Look for the car to arrive at showrooms by next spring, most likely as a 2022 model.

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