Such is the extent of the changes that Mercedes has made to the SL for its seventh generation that it’s hard to know exactly where to start.
The new luxury roadster is more than just an evolutionary update of its decade-old predecessor. In fact, it’s a major reset, not only in design and engineering but also in construction, packaging, performance and, perhaps most importantly of all, dynamics.
Given the SL’s revered standing, it’s a move that clearly hasn’t been taken lightly. The 1954 original, a modified race car with flamboyant gullwing doors, got the ball rolling and set the tone for a line-up that has endured for close to 70 years and long since achieved cult status.
The fact that the new SL (known internally as the R232) was conceived by Mercedes-AMG at its skunkworks in Affalterbach, rather than by the regular passenger car team at its sprawling Sindelfingen engineering base, tells you all you need to know about the intent behind the repositioning of what is perhaps the most iconic of all Mercedes models.
By twinning its development with that of the Mercedes-AMG GT, a model of Nürburgring-honed competition pedigree, and providing it with a long list of innovations (including four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and active aerodynamics as standard), AMG is hoping to capture some of the driving magic that made the first SL so desirable. Less boulevard cruiser, more purist sports car. So is the plan.