- A new SL 43 variant joins the lineup.
- Its turbocharged four-cylinder produces a respectable 375 horsepower.
- Less weight at the front axle and RWD might make this the driver's choice.
2023 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Adds Turbo-4 to Lineup
Turbocharger uses an electric motor to quickly build boost
Now that Mercedes has discontinued the two-door S-Class and AMG GT, the SL is the most luxurious and expensive convertible in the three-pointed star's arsenal. It was redesigned last year, with both the AMG SL 55 and AMG SL 63 powered by a potent twin-turbocharged V8 in two states of tune — the former offering 469 horsepower and the latter 577 hp.
But what if you care more about a car's design and road presence than what's under the hood? The new 2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG SL 43 answers the call by cutting the cylinder count in half. The switch to rear-wheel drive — compared to the all-wheel-drive layout of the SL 55 and SL 63 — helps lower weight even further. The result is a grand-touring convertible that's less powerful but not significantly slower than its siblings. And with less weight over the front axle, it might even be the driver's choice.
What's under the SL's hood?
Three powertrains are available for the 2023 Mercedes-Benz SL. The new AMG SL 43 is driven by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making a stout 375 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Moving such a heavy convertible with just a four-cylinder seems like a recipe for lethargic acceleration, but Mercedes says the SL 43 can actually scoot from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. Credit partially goes to a small electric motor that spools up the turbocharger quicker than exhaust gas alone. The turbocharger is powered by a 48-volt electrical system; this system also powers the starter-generator unit, allowing the engine to turn off while coasting to a stop. That's right — the SL 43 has the only mild hybrid powertrain in the SL family. Though fuel economy numbers haven't been released yet, we expect it to be much more efficient than the AMG SL 55 and AMG SL 63.
Speaking of these eight-cylinder models, the SL 55 kicks things off with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 469 hp and 516 lb-ft on tap. With a claimed 0-60 mph sprint time of 3.8 seconds, the SL 55 is a full second quicker than the SL 43. But it's also $30,000 pricier. You do get more features with the SL 55, of course — its standard air suspension is an optional extra for the SL 43, as are the SL 55's larger wheels — but the uptick is hard to swallow if you don't have a need for speed.
On the other hand, you could also go full-bore, money-is-no-object with the SL 63. Its starting price of around $180,000 is quite a bit higher than the SL 43's $111,050 MSRP, but one tap of the accelerator will silence most arguments. In this application, the V8 is tuned to provide 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes says this decreases the 0-60 mph time to just 3.5 seconds, but we've clocked 3.4 seconds in Edmunds' testing.
How's the SL's interior?
The SL's cabin design is faultless, combining the high-tech feel of Mercedes' most recent products with peerless build quality and materials. Check out last year's SL review, where we break down the interior in detail and compare it against rivals like the Porsche 911.
A new four-cylinder model opens the Mercedes SL lineup to more buyers. Don't feel like you aren't getting the full experience for this lower-priced model; it offers plenty of power and the same ultra-luxe interior as its siblings.