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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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