by Karl Furlong
To underline just how intent Mercedes is about moving the SL away from its grand tourer image and closer to a sportier, more genuine Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet threat, the entire new SL lineup is badged as an AMG model. That now includes the newly introduced Mercedes-AMG SL 43. It may only have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of a V8, but the SL 43 - now the entry point into the SL range - goes about incorporating that AMG DNA in different ways, most notably its F1-derived turbocharger tech. It also substitutes the heavier all-wheel-drive system for a rear-wheel drive layout, so its driving character should be thoroughly unique within the SL lineup. Whether it feels as special as the SL 55 and SL 63 remains to be seen.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG SL 43 Roadster||
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The release date for the 2023 Mercedes-AMG SL 43 in the USA has been set for summer 2023, when it will be coming out as a 2023 model.
The price of the 2023 Mercedes-AMG SL 43 is $109,900, so it is now the cheapest new SL you can buy. That MSRP is over $27,000 less than you'll pay for the SL 55. As for the cost of the range-topping SL 63, that is nearly $70k more than the SL 43.
Among its rivals, the main one has to be the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet which also has a 2+2 layout, while promising to be one of the best drop-tops for the keen driver. The cheapest 911 Carrera Cabriolet starts at $127,200, but it's quicker than the SL 43 and has a more soulful flat-six engine.
You could probably ask Mercedes-AMG to remove the SL 43 badge from the back, one of the only telltale signs that this particular SL doesn't have a V8. Yes, the exterior of the Mercedes-AMG SL 43 is every bit as striking and upmarket as its more expensive siblings. It does have a unique treatment for its front fascia, rear apron, and the tailpipe accents, but not much else has been altered.
While the SL 55 and SL 63 have square tailpipes, the SL 43 can be identified by its quartet of rounded tailpipes, forming part of a tasteful and curvaceous rear end. It's also at this end of its body that you'll find an automatically deployable spoiler with five different angle settings based on whether optimizing handling or lowering drag is more important given the driving situation. The wheels measure 19 inches - an inch smaller than the 20s equipped to the SL 55.
As with other SLs, the SL 43 adopts a lighter soft-top roof with a Z-top design that saves 46 pounds of weight over the previous SL's hard-top design. It can be opened or closed in around 15 seconds and at speeds of up to 37 mph. Like the SL 55, LED headlights and daytime running lights are standard.
Although we don't know what colors will be available for the Mercedes-AMG SL 43, it is likely to come with the same options as the SL 55. This 12-strong palette includes some refreshingly vivid hues like Sun Yellow, Starling Blue Metallic, and Manufaktur shades such as Hyper Blue Metallic and Patagonia Red. For the stealthy look, Mercedes will offer one of two Night packages with high-gloss black exterior components such as the mirror caps and front splitter. This would look good with Obsidian Black or Selenite Grey paint.
Finally, an AMG Exterior Chrome Package with high-gloss chrome exterior accents will also be available.
The dimensions of the new Mercedes-AMG SL 43 roadster include a length of 185.2 inches, a height of 53.5 inches, and a width of 75.4 inches, all set over a 106.3-inch wheelbase. Mercedes USA did not include the one bit of information we would have been most interested in, which is the 43's curb weight, since it is likely to be quite a bit lighter than the SL 55.
We do know that the Euro-spec SL 43 weighs just under 4,000 lbs, however, so assuming the same specs for the US model, it's approximately 300 lbs lighter than the SL 55.
The M139 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Mercedes-AMG SL 43 produces 375 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque, but that only tells part of the story. Although those outputs are surprisingly down on the 402 hp and 369 lb-ft in the new C43 sedan, it's the manner in which the SL 43 delivers the goods that makes the difference.
Mercedes-AMG turned to its Petronas F1 Team to borrow a key piece of technology for this drop-top - that being the electric exhaust gas turbocharger that is operated by a 48-volt electrical system. In this design, a small 1.6-inch electric motor is integrated directly on the turbocharger shaft, thereby directly driving the shaft. Whereas turbocharged cars often do their best work in a very specific rev range and suffer from reduced responsiveness at certain points, Mercedes says that the SL 43 is immediately responsive from idle and across the whole rev range. By electrifying the turbocharger, the car can also deliver higher torque at low revs.
Power from the engine is directed to the rear wheels exclusively, another change from the SL 55, and the transmission is an AMG Speedshift multi-clutch nine-speed automatic. The 0-60 mph sprint takes 4.8 seconds, which is a second slower than the SL 55, but based on Merc's description of the turbocharger, we shouldn't read into the 0-60 time exclusively but rather the improved drivability that such a design makes possible. The top speed of the SL 43 is 170 mph.
The 48-volt electrical system also works to feed the belt-driven starter-generator, enabling a smoother start/stop system and gliding capability.
Compared to the outgoing SL, the new one has seen an 18% increase in the torsional rigidity of the body shell structure, while the soft-top roof has lowered the car's center of gravity. The standard AMG suspension and a new multi-link front axle with five links - the first AMG production model with such a design - combine with other changes to deliver a more agile, sportier SL than we've been accustomed to.
The SL 43's EPA data hasn't been published yet, but we expect it to be far more efficient than the 16 mpg combined of both the SL 55 and SL 63. The Euro-spec model has a claimed consumption figure of as little as 8.9 liters per 100 km, which translates to over 26 mpg. This is a WLTP-rated figure, however, so something closer to 22 mpg combined is likely by EPA standards - this is a figure achieved by the C43 sedan.
With the 17.4-gallon gas tank from the SL 55, the SL 43 should be capable of covering about 380 miles on a full tank.
When we drove the SL 55, we found the interior mostly pleasant but with a few flaws. Based on that experience, the interior of the Mercedes-AMG SL 43 should be similar.
Most functions are operated via the center 11.9-inch touchscreen interface, and that is complemented by a 12.3-inch LCD display for the gauge cluster. The center display can be electrically adjusted from 12 to 32 degrees to ensure high visibility even when the sun is shining, which is a welcome feature in a convertible. In the SL 55, we found the lack of physical buttons to be a bit of a challenge to adjust to, even though the touchscreen itself is responsive.
The MBUX system is known from other Merc models and should ship with all the goodies in the SL 55 like wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, in-car Wi-Fi, voice activation of key functions, biometric authentication, and over-the-air software updates.
Once you've digested all the technology, you'll appreciate the fact that Mercedes has not overlooked luxury in this more athletic generation of the SL. As such, the seats in the Mercedes-AMG SL 43 come with black Nappa leather upholstery, along with six extra optional colors. The front seats have heating, cooling, and power adjustment. If you don't like the standard Black piano Lacquer, you can go for various AMG finishes like aluminum, carbon fiber, and dark chrome. The sporty steering wheel can be finished in Nappa leather, Nappa leather with Alcantara, or microfiber with carbon fiber.
The new 2+2 layout of the 2023 SL 43 adds two small back seats, but this second row is more useful for extra packing space than it is for accommodating average-sized adults.
Cargo space inside the Mercedes-AMG SL 43 varies between 7.5 and 8.5 cubic feet, so longer trips out of town will necessitate packing carefully.
The most popular competitors of 2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG SL 43: