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Mercedes-AMG SL 2022: will a RWD model be released?


AMG has revealed the next SL55 and SL63 convertibles, both with standard 4MATIC+ AWD – but we think a rear-wheel drive model will follow

In a break from tradition, the latest-generation Mercedes-AMG SL roadster was unveiled with two engines equipped with standard all-wheel drive – with no classic rear-drive grade in sight.

But there is speculation that the new SL will get a RWD model in time.

At the launch of the Mercedes-AMG SL, the company mentioned that the all-wheel drive system was “available” but standard fitment on both V8 models, which we think is a hint that a future variant of the model could have rear-wheel drive, possibly equipped with a six-cylinder engine rather than a V8.

Mercedes-AMG SL 2022 badge
A view you would see a lot of if you raced an SL – they are seriously fast.

While it is still debated whether or not the SL all-wheel drive variants will have a rear-wheel drive only mode (like what was fitted to the E63 S sedan), Mercedes-Benz has not confirmed any further information about the drivetrain. 

What will a rear-wheel drive SL be like?

One of the biggest advantages the rear drive version would have is weight. The AWD model weighs a whopping 1970kg which is pretty significant for a two-door roadster. 

That’s thanks to the new 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system, along with rear wheel steer. It all adds up to make a package that might grip extremely well but will ultimately feel its weight in the bends.

Mercedes-AMG SL 2022 rear end
Weighing in at 1970kg means this roadster is no lightweight.

The rear-wheel drive version could easily weigh 100kg less than the AWD model thanks to a reduction in parts, so a kerb weight of around 1800kg would make a really big difference to the way the car drives and handles. 

The new SL weighs over 100kg more than the previous R231 SL 63 despite having a lighter fabric roof and redesigned aluminium chassis, however it is clear that the all-wheel drive powertrain has a lot to do with the weight gain. 

RWD powertrain options

While it might be an obvious choice for Mercedes-AMG to fit a V8 to the rear-wheel drive model, it’s very likely that the company will instead go for an turbocharged inline-six engine. 

Mercedes-AMG SL 2022 silver wind tunnel
The SL has a sleek design language – we think it looks stunning.

The engine is likely to be the 3.0-litre inline six engine found in the Mercedes-AMG “53” models. Equipped with EQ boost mild 48-volt technology, the engine produces 320kW of power and 520Nm of torque, however with a slight tune the engine could happily produce over 400kW – the perfect recipe for a performance roadster. 

However, the “53” engine has not been seen with rear-wheel drive thus far, with all uses of that powertrain currently employing an all-wheel drive system.

Mercedes-AMG could use the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine found in their 43 model lineup which produces 287kW of power and 520Nm of torque

Mercedes-AMG SL 2022 4L V8 engine
The whopping 4.0-litre V8 might be replaced by a inline six for a RWD version.

The inline six engine would be the choice, however, due to its inherent smoothness and refinement for day to day cruising. 

We know that a higher performance hybrid version is on its way, but only time will tell what will be the answer to our rear-wheel drive speculation.

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