Mercedes-Benz is planning to radically shift from the current cars for the next-generation SL and SLK-Class sports cars. Besides using an all-new architecture, one of the biggest changes to the SL might be the move to a conventional soft top, a hark back to the classic soft top convertibles of the 1970s.
Codenamed R232, the eighth-generation SL-Class will be based on the modular sports car architecture (MSA), which will also be used in the SLK-Class (the R173). The platform is being developed with focus on flexibilities to allow alterations in length, width, height and wheelbase to suit different bodystyles of the vehicle. Powertrain-wise, the SLK-Class is expected to house a 238bhp four-cylinder petrol engine along with other six-cylinder units with power ranging from 333bhp to 435bhp. An AMG-tuned Black Series variant is also expected which will churn out 465bhp. The SL-Class could be available with a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine with output ranging from 365bhp to 435bhp, besides the usual AMG-tinkered SL63.
With the soft top for the SL-Class, the biggest benefits for the car will be the reduced weight and production costs, though Mercedes-Benz will stick with an advanced version of the hardtop for the SLK-Class. The cars will be ready by the next decade and Mercedes-Benz is taking a lot of effort to reduce manufacturing costs. Owing to the platform’s scalability, it might also be used by Aston Martin for their next-generation sports cars, as the British manufacturer looks to refresh its ageing sports car lineup.