New SL Sport details lift Mercedes prospects

DES PLAINES, IL – NOVEMBER 06: A new Mercedes SLÜ Class is presented to the media November 6, 2018 at the North American International Auto Show in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)2019 Getty Images

By Ted Beck

Mercedes will introduce a new vehicle in its great lineup this week in Chicago. Judging from the unveiling today, the new SL may be considered the first step towards a new luxury brand. For the first time in a long time, Mercedes has a chance to send a message to buyers of other automakers that they think they can play in the same league.

That is to say that the new Mercedes SL is not “me too.” It’s a step in the right direction.

The SL is not your father’s SL.

Compared to the original SL (a blend of front wheel drive and rear wheel drive) and the current SL of today, the new design looks a lot like a Phantom sedan. This automobile runs from the front end through the body. If you ask me, this is a step in the right direction for the Mercedes brand. It adds more verve, more flair, more interesting styling.

In 2018, the original 1968 SL was redesigned and upgraded. The original 1968 version of the SL was arguably a masterpiece, and very much of its time. The same cannot be said about the most recent 2017 SL called “S450 SLC.” It’s the same car, but it feels dated. Some would say is too outdated.

The other reason is the power. With a 4.0-liter V8 making 363 horsepower, Mercedes is giving this car as much power as possible. It’s a seriously fast luxury car.

For our area, it’s a tough deal for the American buyer. In the past, the original SL Class sold for $70,000 to $80,000, the SLK (2007) was $35,000 and the newer SL is up around $50,000, which may or may not be affordable to a lot of people in this area.

The announcement that the 2,472-pound SL will arrive in mid-2019 does not address the matter at hand.

Mercedes will be part of the Chicago Auto Show next week, and it’s a good bet that they will deliver a great car for the area. There will be other exciting vehicles at the show, including the Jeep Gladiator (a truly special idea, a new take on a classic SUV) and the Toyota RAV4. The new CLS and much-anticipated M2020 X will also make a lot of noise.

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And that’s really what this is about – excitement. It is going to be an exciting year at Mercedes. (It already is).

It’s unclear, of course, what exactly the future of Mercedes will hold. There are rumors of new models coming in the next year. Among them could be a coupe version of the CLS (lower segment line) or an updated GLC (above segment line). Regardless, the 2020 SL should establish some benchmarks for future production. The news that the last-generation SL is headed to end is noteworthy.

Ted Beck is the Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Strategy for Patriot Auto Group, which he formed in 1987. John Voelcker is AutoScoop.com’s auto editor.

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