This week Mercedes-AMG unveiled a new entry-level version of itscalled the SL43, and it’s the first SL since the original 190SL of the 1950s and ’60s to use a four-cylinder engine. The SL43 is unlikely to come to the US, which is honestly a shame as it should be the purest model in the lineup.
The SL43 is powered by the samefound in models like the CLA45 and GLA45, but with a Formula 1-inspired twist. This new version of the powerplant uses – the first application of one in a production car – directly derived from the turbo found in Mercedes’ championship-winning F1 car. Compared to a regular turbo it improves throttle response throughout the powerband, enabling higher torque at lower revs and maintaining boost pressure, even when not accelerating The turbo is driven by the 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which can provide an additional boost of 14 horsepower, thanks to its belt-driven starter generator. Total output is 381 hp and 354 pound-feet of torque, putting it 88 hp and 162 lb.-ft. down from the twin-turbo but besting a base 911 Carrera by 2 hp and 23 lb.-ft.
Unlike the V8-powered SL55 and SL63, which come standard with a fancy all-wheel-drive system, the SL43 is rear-wheel drive. It has the same nine-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as other new SLs, and Mercedes says the SL43 will hit 62 mph in 4.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 171 mph, just 1.1 seconds and 14 mph off from the SL55. The SL43 comes standard with steel suspension, and it’s available with all the same performance features as the V8 models, such as adaptive dampers, carbon-ceramic brakes, rear-axle steering, an electronic limited-slip differential, dynamic engine mounts and a Race drive mode with launch control. According to Mercedes the SL43 is about 300 pounds lighter than the SL55, too.
There are some slight styling differences to mark the four-cylinder model, but the SL43 is just as beautiful as its siblings. The lower bumper has a less aggressive design, the rear bumper ditches the fake vents, and the rear diffuser features quad round exhaust tips. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, but 20s and 21s are optional, and the SL43 is available with an Aerodynamics Package that adds different bumper trims and modified spoilers for more downforce.
is identical to that of the other new SL models, with a “hyper-analog” design that features a digital gauge cluster, a 12.3-inch central touchscreen with an electronically adjustable angle and sweet turbine-style air vents mixed with stitched leather and real metal trim. Fancy nappa leather, carbon-fiber accents, performance bucket seats, tons of driver-assist features and tech systems like augmented-reality navigation are all available.
With a lot less weight over the front axle, rear-wheel drive and all the performance goodies you want, the SL43 is shaping up to be the purist driver’s choice out of the new SL lineup, even if it’s only got four cylinders – plus it’ll surely be a good bit cheaper. Sadly, the SL43 is unlikely to come to the US, but there are more variants on the way. Debuting later this year will be awhich could offer over 800 horsepower, and there may be a PHEV version of the SL43 as well.