HELL, Mich. – The 2023 Mercedes-AMG SL 43 is the high-dollar luxury convertible comparable to the Mustang turbo vs. V8 debate. In other words, don’t rule out this four-cylinder Benz simply because it has half as many cylinders as its 55 and 63 siblings.
We’ve driven those, and while largely impressed with what those convertibles must offer, they sure aren’t picture-perfect. Enter the 43 with its longitudinally-mounted 2.0-liter turbocharged (to-the-moon) four-cylinder engine. What makes the 43 desirable is less about what’s in it, though, and more about what isn’t – roughly 350 kilos of curb weight. That features all that’s removed by having two fewer driven wheels – the V8-powered SLs are all-wheel-drive-only, whereas the 43 exclusively has rear-wheel drive. It also lacks the impossibly complicated energetic anti-roll stabilization system from the 63, as a substitute sticking to only passive-everything as standard equipment.
The list goes on, however the vital point here is that a boatload of weight and complexity is faraway from the equation, leaving you with a more straightforward driving experience.
All that said, there may be nothing more complex than the technology AMG baked into the little engine up front. In an effort to ward off what we typically seek advice from as “turbo lag,” the engineers used an electrical exhaust gas turbocharger. In layman’s terms, meaning there’s a tiny, 1.6-inch electric motor integrated on the turbocharger shaft that gets the turbo spinning before the exhaust gases join the party and keep it spinning the old-fashioned way. The goal is to make throttle response immediate from idle or while driving after you’ve removed your foot from the throttle. That electric motor, operated via the 48-volt onboard electrical system – can take over at a second’s notice and maintain boost pressure in any respect times so that you never must spin it back up. It’s an idea derived from Mercedes’ F1 engine tech, and now you’ll be able to buy it in a brand new automobile today. Neat!
Output for this hand-built AMG engine is a stout 375 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. That’s impressive, but we are able to’t help wondering whether a halo automobile just like the SL must have something lower than the CLA 45 S coming to the U.S. that makes 416 hp and 369 lb-ft. Perhaps that number is just just a little too near the SL 55’s 469 ponies for Mercedes’ comfort. Nevertheless, the SL 43 is claimed to run to 60 mph in only 4.8 seconds using launch control and top out at an electronically limited 170 mph. That’s 1.0 second slower than the 55 and 1.3 seconds behind the 63, but absolutely not slow and positively not bad for dropping half an engine.
In an enormous plus for engagement, Mercedes sticks with its nine-speed multi-clutch transmission for shifting duties, providing you with all of the snappy rawness of the transmission fitted to its V8 models. It’s the proper pairing for this four-cylinder engine, because short ratios and quick paddle response are your folks when power is briefly reserve. To not say there’s an absence of power, since the SL 43 will still briefly light up the rear tires whenever you spring away from a stoplight. Just ensure you tap it into traction control sport mode before doing so, since the ESC system hates fun with every part switched on.
The four-cylinder-ness really dominates the driving experience in any respect levels, even from the moment you turn the automobile on. Its idle is rough and loud, almost as if it’s missing balance shafts on purpose to persuade you the engine is meaner and greater than it’s. Leave the exhaust in its quiet mode, and it makes little or no noise in any respect whenever you’re cruising or under light acceleration. That constant thrum of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is missed here, because it makes the SL ooze with a more aggressive character. Get the revs up within the 43, though, and also you’ll quickly learn that this engine has its own sweet tune to play. The buzziness at low speeds drops away, and a sweet, higher-pitched note comes on within the upper rev ranges, encouraging the motive force to maintain pulling the subsequent paddle and play it again. It’s each racy and quick to charm. Mercedes found the suitable sound with this engine, because regardless that it often is the same size and have the identical variety of cylinders as hot hatches aplenty, it appears like a sports automobile at full chat.
And as for a way well that electric turbocharger works, it does its job. Even in case you try your best to induce lag by hopping off the throttle for a pair seconds before fully stepping back into the suitable pedal, the engine does actually pick back up right where it left off. Response is rapid off the road, as well, bettering what’s on offer in other high-powered AMG four-cylinders. It still doesn’t have the free-revving, telepathic response of a high-strung naturally-aspirated engine, but this type of response is rattling good for a large turbocharger on just a little engine.
The lighter front end is noticeable straight away, but don’t consider it as revolutionary for the SL. Mercedes doesn’t list a weight for U.S.-spec cars, however the 3,990-pound curb weight in Europe still makes this convertible a hefty boy. A happier-to-turn-in nature is a stunning delight, though, and it makes the 43 much more enjoyable on a winding road than its brethren with more weight hanging off the front end. Just as Senior Editor James Riswick didn’t miss the 63’s energetic suspension bits in his first drive, I didn’t miss them within the SL 43 either. Its passive dampers split the difference between twisty road composure and poor-pavement compliance well, and in case you do want something more advanced, the 43 may be equipped with the 53’s less complex, but arguably more agreeable AMG Ride Control adjustable and adaptive dampers. Really, the one big grievance that we’ll still lodge with this version of the SL, that may be applied across the range, is that it’s just plain heavy.
If you happen to were hoping it being rear-drive as a substitute of all-wheel-drive would bring a few of the AMG GT magic back into the fold, reduce your expectations. The large, grippy tires keep the rear end planted firmly on the straight and narrow usually, making it less tail-happy than you may expect. But perhaps any disappointment is actually attributable to the quantity of power on tap. While 375 horses is a very good number and its 0-60 time is actually not slow, all-out acceleration is nevertheless behind the pace of cars just like the Jaguar F-Type R Convertible, Porsche 911 Cabriolet and Chevrolet Corvette Convertible. The identical lack of shove applies to the Lexus LC 500 Convertible, but that automobile speaks to you in ways this four-cylinder AMG simply cannot.
The rationale those comparables are relevant is because this base SL 43 starts at $111,050 with our test automobile hitting $120,985. You’re going to must want all of the intangibles that the SL gives you outside of its solid – but still middling in the category – performance to decide on it over rivals. Its design will easily turn every head on the block, and Mercedes still gives you quad suggestions (albeit round as a substitute of rectangular) with the four-cylinder. There isn’t an interior that’ll beat this one for pure luxury and tech, as long as you’ll be able to get past the annoying touchscreen roof operation. And did I mention it looks good?
For those reasons, it’s incredible to see the SL 43 here in America. It broadens the SL’s appeal with a more playful chassis, rear-wheel drive and a smile-inducing four-cylinder at a large discount – the most affordable V8 model starts at a towering $138,450. There’s even something for enthusiasts to nerd out about with the electrical turbocharger. So don’t consider the SL 43 as second-fiddle to the V8 model you really want, because this four-cylinder may be precisely the answer and package you’re in search of.
This Article First Appeared At www.autoblog.com