When most Mercedes-Benz fans think SL, they think of the original 300SL Gullwing, a design icon, a motorsports hero, and the beginning of a legendary nameplate that will live on in the annals of automotive history. It’s a marque that has sadly lost its way in decades gone by, becoming more of a GT than a sports car, which is why the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL55 is perhaps so pleasing.
The SL-Class as a whole is now officially a full AMG product, developed on the same chassis that will underpin the new AMG GT. But more than that, the new SL-Class is now a 2+2 seater – for the first time in decades – and has all-wheel drive – for the first time ever. In SL55 guise, the shapely hood houses a familiar AMG V8 displacing 4.0 liters and with two turbos boosting outputs to 469 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 0-60 mph sprint of 3.8 seconds. Now with more focus than ever before, the SL is more than just an 8 Series Convertible rival; instead, the Mercedes-AMG SL55’s competitors are now the Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet and Ferrari Portofino M. Whereas before, these may have been a stretch too far for the SL, in 2022, the nameplate is back to its best and spoiling for a fight.
2022 Mercedes-AMG SL55 Changes: What’s the difference vs 2021 AMG SL 55?
The SL55 is all-new for 2022, forming the base of the seventh-generation SL-Class in the USA. For the first time in its history, the SL is now a full AMG product, sharing underpinnings with the forthcoming second-gen AMG GT. New for this generation is all-wheel drive, but it also reverts to a folding soft-top roof and a 2+2-seat cabin configuration.
2022 Mercedes-AMG SL55 Handling and Driving Impressions
With rivals such as the BMW 8 Series convertible and the more sports-focused Porsche 911 Cabriolet, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL55 has some high standards to live up to when it comes to ride and handling. As with so many others in this class, the SL55 sends its power to all four wheels – a first for the SL-Class – doing so via a nine-speed automatic transmission. This helps put down all 577 horses provided by the twin-turbo V8 engine, snatching up 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. But the benefits of this rear-biased 4Matic+ system are more apparent through corners and on corner exit, where grip is abundant. But the SL55 convertible is a heavy beast, and in stock form, the suspension has its work cut out for it. With the optional AMG Active Ride Control, it’s a neutral affair that manages its weight sublimely but is never quite as sharp as a 911 Cabriolet.
Despite being a larger car than it seems, rear-axle steering imperceptibly makes it feel much smaller to drive, and he pliant suspension rides bumps and corrugations better than we expected of the standard 20-inch alloys and low-profile summer tires.
Verdict: Is 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL55 a good car?
While always revered, it’s been a long time since the SL-Class was considered truly great. It became bloated and obnoxious, lacking sports car credentials and true grand tourer clout. But the 2022 edition is the closest yet to the spirit of the original, thanks in large part to AMG overseeing development from the ground up. It’s not a true sports car – that’s the job of the AMG GT – but it is a sporty grand tourer that can hang with the best of them. It has a characterful V8, a lithe chassis, a compliant suspension, a luxurious interior, and style in spades. Weak points are few and far between, making this review of the Mercedes-AMG SL55 highly positive. We now have no trouble recommending the SL as a true return to form.