How can you kill an icon?
The Mercedes-Benz SL can trace its roots back to 1954, the year when the iconic 300 SL made its debut and changed the automotive landscape forever. That gullwing marvel was, perhaps, the world’s first truly exotic car post WWII. Now in its sixth generation, today’s SL is currently being overshadowed by the Mercedes-AMG GT and, not surprisingly, sales are down. Does this mean the SL’s time is limited? Nope. According to an interview Autocar had with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, work is already underway on the next SL.
“We are working on a next generation of the SL,” Zetsche said. “The plan is to make a real wow car, a stunning car.” What he refused to comment on was a planned launch date, so it’s fair to assume it is a few years out. But what we are especially pleased to hear from Zetsche is the acknowledgement that a conservative SL, like the current car, is not in its best interest, sales wise. Bold styling choices are needed. “Whenever we accomplished that (bold styling) in the past, the SL has had a very good performance in the marketplace and that’s where we want to go,” the CEO added. On sale since 2013 and given a facelift last year, the SL is offered with a range of powerful engines, starting with the 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 with 362 hp and going up to the 621-hp V12.
It’s available with a retractable hard top only and classified as a luxury performance grand tourer, whereas the AMG GT takes aim at the Porsche 911. Compare the SL and AMG GT side by side and it barely takes a second to recognize the latter as the prettiest of the pair. Like Zetsche implied, the current SL is quite conservative, though 2017’s refresh did give it some styling spice. Another reason for the SL’s slow sales is its price tag, which begins at $88,200 and goes up to nearly $240,000. For that kind of money, there are many other choices out there. We doubt the next generation SL-Class will be any less expensive, but like Zetsche stated, it needs to be a stunner instead of unremarkable.