2022 Mercedes-AMG SL: Roadster Returns to Its Rightful Place

2022 Mercedes-AMG SL article highlights:

  • For 2022, the venerable SL becomes a Mercedes-AMG product with a new chassis, suspension, and AWD powertrain
  • Available in SL 55 and 63 forms, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL retains its grand-touring luxury but gets some welcome added sportiness
  • Compared to the Lexus LC 500, the 2022 SL will likely be more expensive, but it’s also faster

The ‘SL’ nameplate may derive from a Mercedes supercar icon, but it hasn’t gotten much showroom-love these last few years. However, although Mercedes-Benz canceled the related SLC recently, it didn’t give up on the roadster completely. It skipped 2021, but the Mercedes SL is back for 2022, this time in AMG’s hands. And if initial impressions are anything to go by, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL is in good hands, indeed.

AMG puts some ‘Sport’ back in ‘Sport-Leicht’ for the 2022 Mercedes SL

A red 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 driving around a desert road
2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 | Mercedes-Benz
2022 Mercedes-AMG SL
Engine4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8
HorsepowerSL 55: 469 hp
SL 63: 577 hp
TorqueSL 55: 516 lb-ft
SL 63: 590 lb-ft
TransmissionNine-speed automatic
Drive typeAll-wheel drive
0-60 mph timeSL 55: 3.8 seconds
SL 63: 3.5 seconds

Once upon a time, ‘SL’ stood for ‘Sport-Leicht,’ or ‘Sport Light’ for those who don’t speak German. And the first-gen Mercedes SL was a genuine sports car. Over the years, though, the SL morphed into a grand-tourer, arguably reaching its zenith with the 1990-2002 R129 SL. That’s not bad in and of itself, but the last-gen SL lost some of the model’s traditional special sauce. And in doing so, it became, to quote Car and Driver, “just another pricey convertible.”

The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL aims to reverse this trend by, fittingly, drawing from the roadster’s roots. And while it says ‘Mercedes’ on the 2022 SL’s hood, this convertible is an all-AMG design.

On the ‘light’ front, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL ditches the hard-top roof and goes with a soft top. That saves 46 pounds on its own and lowers the convertible’s center of gravity. And if you want to save some extra weight, both the 2022 SL 55 and 63 offer optional carbon-ceramic brakes.

That last feature should clue you in to how much ‘sport’ AMG added to the 2022 Mercedes SL.  It’s still a 2+2 convertible, but it has a brand-new aluminum chassis. It’s not all aluminum, though: there are various steel, magnesium, and carbon-fiber components in there, too. As a result, the 2022 SL is stiffer than the 2020 model. And besides the new V8 powertrain, AMG also gives the 2022 SL standard AWD and all-wheel steering.

2022 Mercedes-AMG SL gets sportier without losing its luxury touch

The black-leather-upholstered seats and black-red-and-carbon-fiber dashboard in a 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 63
2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 interior | Mercedes-Benz

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If you want extra sportiness, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 offers more besides extra power and torque. While both the SL 55 and 63 have standard adaptive dampers, the latter model gets AMG’s Active Body Control, which adds a front-axle lift, slightly lower ride height, and active sway bars. It also comes standard with an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, active engine mounts, and an extra Race Mode. If you want these features on the SL 55, they’re part of the Dynamic Plus Package.

AMG also offers the Aerodynamics Package on both 2022 Mercedes SL models. While both convertibles have an active rear spoiler, this package essentially makes it more active, Autoblog explains. But it also puts an additional active carbon-fiber aero element on the underbody in front of the engine. It’s linked to the driving modes and provides the same downforce-boosting, anti-lift function as the virtually-identical piece on the AMG GT R. The AMG Aerodynamics Package also upgrades the rear diffuser.

However, just because the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL has gotten sportier on paper doesn’t mean it’s forgotten its grand-touring history. Each 2022 SL comes standard with a 12.3” digital gauge cluster and a tilting 11.9” center touchscreen. That touchscreen features Mercedes’ excellent MBUX infotainment system, complete with Voice Assistant. And even the base SL 55 gets Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, and a Burmester audio system as standard. The SL 63, though, gets the surround-sound version, as well as a heads-up display.

In addition, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL features adjustable ambient lighting, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, as well as heated and ventilated front seats. The front seats also get Mercedes’ warm-air-blowing Airscarf feature. And while sportier seats are available, the standard ‘comfort’ ones get massage functions. As of this writing, though, Mercedes hasn’t the 2022 SL’s standard ADAS features.

The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL isn’t the sportiest convertible sports car, but it sure makes touring grand

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Earlier, we mentioned that the outgoing Mercedes SL didn’t feel as special as a flagship roadster should. But that wasn’t the only contributing factor to its lagging sales. Simply put, Mercedes-Benz had too many other high-end convertibles that cannibalized SL sales, Car and Driver says. With the SLC gone, though, it’s just the SL and the GT Roadster.

Speaking of that convertible, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Mercedes SL never fully abandoned performance, even as it morphed into a GT. Remember the R230-gen SL600? It had a 493-hp 5.5-liter twin-turbo V12 and could beat a Dodge Viper to 60 mph. However, even in its early days, the SL wasn’t an extreme sports car. And while AMG wanted to give the 2022 SL some extra athleticism, it also knew that the GT was its ‘real’ performance model.

As such, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL has one heck of a balancing act to pull off. Luckily, it pulls it off with aplomb.

For one, Car and Driver estimates that AMG might be sandbagging the SL’s 0-60 claims slightly. But while this roadster can really fly down the road, its active exhaust won’t annoy the neighbors. That doesn’t mean the V8 can’t produce a few crackles on command, though, or that it sounds as mellifluous as its power delivery. And even in the sportier driving modes, the 2022 SL rides comfortably. Its seats are supportive and comfy, too.

However, this is one AMG product where the less-powerful version is arguably better, Autoblog says. Yes, the SL 63 is even faster, but its steering isn’t as refined and the front axle feels harsher. Plus, it’s not like the 2022 SL 55 is any less grippy, approachable, agile, or well-balanced.

Overall, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL can still comfortably cruise, but it won’t balk if you show it a canyon road.

Should you buy an SL instead of another luxury roadster?

A red 2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible parked by some rocks by a beach
2022 Lexus LC 500 Convertible | Lexus

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As of this writing, Mercedes hasn’t announced official 2022 SL pricing. Estimates put the SL 55 in the $120,000-$130,000 range and the SL 63 at roughly $165,000.

At that price, you could get a Porsche 911 Cabriolet or even a GTS Targa4. However, while there’s a case for the 911 as the SL’s rival, it’s not. The 911 is a sports car that happens to be luxurious, while the SL is a luxury car that happens to be sporty. They’re similar, and more than a few people likely cross-shop them, but they’re not quite rivals.

Realistically, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL’s major rival is the Lexus LC 500. Luxurious? Check. Reasonably athletic? Yes. Stylish? Heck yeah. And this isn’t a random match-up. Car and Driver pointed to the LC500’s sales growth as a major factor in Mercedes’ decision to keep the SL alive.

On paper, the RWD Lexus LC 500 Convertible is slower, with a 4.4-second 0-60 mph time. But with a $93,050 starting price, it’s significantly cheaper than the SL. And its “sonorous V8” did help earn it MotorBiscuit’s inaugural Best Driving Experience award.

Ultimately, it’s hard to recommend one car over the other without driving them back-to-back. And when you’re spending six figures on a convertible, numerical comparisons matter less than material quality, style, and sound. But if you were worried that the SL had lost its way, worry no more. This roadster is right back where it belongs.

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