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You'll Never Guess What This Mercedes Prototype Actually Is

Spy Shots / Comments

Don't let the door count fool you.

Automakers have found clever ways to test new vehicle prototypes without revealing new styling updates. Most test mules are wrapped in camouflage, but sometimes automakers get more creative, like when Jaguar tested the XJ220's powertrain in a Ford van. And while this may not be quite as clever as Jaguar's effort, Mercedes seems to have found an interesting strategy for fooling us with its latest prototype vehicle. At first glance, it looks like a new E-Class with some length taken out of its wheelbase, but it is, in fact, a very different vehicle underneath. And since we've already spotted the facelifted E-Class testing, we know this must be something else - like the new SL.

At this point you may be saying "wait a minute, that doesn't look like an SL." And you'd be right, but Mercedes has gone to great lengths to disguise its upcoming flagship convertible as a four-door sedan with E-Class bodywork. The next-generation SL is currently being developed on Mercedes' new Modular Sports Architecture (MSA), which will also underpin the replacement for the AMG GT. Not only is it cheaper for Mercedes to share platforms with the AMG GT, but it will also help the SL revert back to its Sport Lightweight heritage that its name calls back to. The current car weights well over 4,000 pounds and hasn't been considered a lightweight vehicle for decades.

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Mercedes design boss Gordon Wagner has even said the new SL will borrow styling elements from one of the prettiest Mercedes cars of all time, the 300 SL Gullwing. And even AMG boss Tobias Moers went ahead and said that the SL will drop its current folding metal roof in favor of a fabric one and that the car is expected to have a 2+2 seating layout instead of the current car's two-seat setup.

With the S-Class Coupe and Convertible currently living on borrowed time, we expect this new SL to become Mercedes' new flagship luxury cruiser. Rumors even claim there will be an SL 73 AMG version producing over 800 horsepower with help from a mild hybrid system, which could truly help revitalize the dying SL nameplate.