Opinion: The new Mercedes SL seems ridiculous
The Benz line-up is about to become even more confusing...
Way back in the early 1950s, Germany was getting used to its other 'new normal' (not like the one we are experiencing now...) as the FRG and GDR had been established. The Eastern side was practically religious with Soviet ideology whereas the West preferred to do its best to move forward and forget all the hardships.
One manufacturer in particular that pressed to move forward was Mercedes Benz; and the cherry on top of the corporate cake was the glorious 300SL Gullwing and later Roadster. It was effectively a road-going version of the Le Mans racer that shortly preceded, but with strong global demand and a truly revolutionary blend of style and engineering, it quickly sought its place as one of the most iconic cars in the world.
Overtime, come the 190SL and later W113 Pagoda, the 'Sport Leicht' meaning was rendered less meaningful. The SL was softened over the years and became associated with a floaty, stylish cruiser. However incorrect the name went on to become, the SL was one of Merc's most important models for a 66-year strong period.
Image: Daimler Global Media Site
When it was announced recently that the new SL (to replace the ageing R231) would evoke the spirit of the Gullwing, I was personally quite intrigued. Maybe the SL would finally live up to its name again and be a frisky, lightweight sports car.
The thing is however, a problem has already arisen: the AMG GT...
The problem being is that the AMG GT basically is Merc's flagship sports car. So, with the SL intending to become more hardcore, wouldn't that strategy be a bit daft?
When the AMG GT was launched back in 2014, it instantly became the more logical choice over the SL as a fast, sporty car from Mercedes. It had more of a purpose, more prestige and arguably, more cool.
But what's surprising is that Mercedes decided to carry on production of the SL rather than have the GT as a direct replacement. In my humble opinion, that would've made a heck of a lot of sense. The SL could've had a whole new image. And whilst we can only judge from insiders and spy shots, the upcoming new SL seems a less 'Sport Leicht' than the GT.
It begs the question, really: what on earth are Mercedes thinking? By carrying on production of the SL (particularly the SL63 AMG), they've not only rendered the traditional car useless, but also created a whole tonne of confusion with its upcoming replacement.
This issue has to be raised because if the whole scenario is confusing me - a long-term Mercedes enthusiast - then I simply cannot imagine how much of a headache it would cause to potential customers who want to splash out over 100 grand on an open-top sports car. If the dealers can't justify what's going on, then what impression would that give to the customer?
While it seems quite exciting that a new SL is on the horizon, it's hard not to tie yourself up in the fact that Mercedes seem to be digging themselves a hole that's growing to the point where they can't escape.
And it's not like there is a soft-floaty alternative to this madness; because the 2-door S-Class is being axed. So, if you're going to spend big money on a Benz and don't want to look like a businessman: you have a choice of either a two-seater, very fast sports car, or another two-seater (well, supposedly a 2+2 but the rear 'seats' are always useless) very fast sports car that's probably going to be a bit worse...
Work it out for yourselves!
What do you think?
As counterintuitive as it seems, I think if Mercedes dropped the S-Class two-door, they should've made the SL a soft, floaty cruiser which serves a different purpose. Not something that will dance aimlessly around the toes of their own AMG GT.
Or better still, the AMG GT should've been re-named the SL and then this confusion could've never happened.
But nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.