Mercedes-Benz USA has told us that it is considering bringing the the entry-level four-cylinder SL 43 to North America to sell alongside the SL 55 and SL 63 that have already been confirmed.
The 469 hp (476 PS) SL 55 and 577 hp (585 PS) SL 63 announced last October both feature V8 power and 4Matic all-wheel drive, but the SL 43 unveiled earlier this week is rear-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the second smallest motor ever fitted to an SL in its 68-year career. Only the 1.9-liter 190 SL built between 1955 and 1963 matched the new 43’s cylinder count and offered a smaller displacement.
The 190 SL couldn’t brag about being the world’s first production car with an electrically driven turbocharger, however. The technology on the SL 43 has been drafted in from Formula 1 and is used to cut turbo lag, and combines with a 48-volt electrical system and belt-driven starter-generator (RSG) that can offers mild-hybrid benefits like a gliding mode and energy recovery.
The 2.0-liter engine produces 375-hp (381 PS) at 6,750 rpm and 354 lb-ft (480 Nm) of torque between 3,250 and 5,000 rpm, plus an additional short-term boost of 13-hp (14 PS), which drives the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) takes 4.9 seconds and the top speed is a heady 171 mph, yet Mercedes claims the SL returns between 9.4 and 8.9 l/100km in the European WLTP combined cycle, which is the U.S. equivalent of 25.0-26.4 mpg.
That technical spec and those economy numbers make the SL 43 sound very much like an SL in step with the times, but are they in step with what Mercedes buyers want and expect from their flagship sports cars? That seems to be what Mercedes-Benz USA is wrangling with.
“The Mercedes-AMG SL 43 is currently still under consideration for the U.S. market,” a spokesperson told Carscoops. “We do not have any further details to share regarding U.S. availability at this time. We look forward to launching the iconic all-new AMG SL with the Mercedes-AMG SL 55 and Mercedes-AMG SL 63, which will both arrive in U.S. dealerships in late spring.”
Visually, the SL 43 is distinguished from its V8 brothers by a smoother nose and round, rather than square tailpipes. But it still gets the cool Panamericana grille. Standard rolling stock measures 19 in, but 20- and 21 in upgrades are available.
Last four-cylinder SL was 1955-1963 SL 190
While the idea of a four-cylinder SL might not seem very appealing, that F1-inspired electric turbo has us fascinated, and the SL 43 is likely to be the sweetest handling model thanks to a 308 lbs (140 kg) weight saving, much of that having disappeared from the nose.
And we better get used to the idea of inline fours where we once expected to find a V8. We already know that the next Mercedes-AMG C 63 will switch to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four. The good news for V8 fans though, is that Mercedes is also working on an SL63 E-Performance PHEV which could have over 800 hp (811 PS).
Do you think Mercedes should bring the SL 43 to the U.S., or should the SL stick to V8 power to retain its luxury allure? Leave a comment and let us know.