There is a luxury sedan segment in the United States that can very much be called “unique.” There are people who find it impossible to buy — particularly when it’s from a German manufacturer — because they can’t decide between the high quality of a Mercedes or the compelling athleticism of a BMW.
Now Mercedes has introduced a new formula to this niche. It’s called the SL-Class, and it’s the same broad nameplate as the popular roadster version of Mercedes’s sedan line.
The eight-speed automatic transmission (which uses DSG technology from parent company Daimler) for the new SL is a milder version of the eight-speed in the A-Class, and so is the engine. The tuned version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 produces 461 horsepower. That’s less than the 468 horsepower offered in the A-Class, and it should be noted that the larger sedan’s engine will put out slightly more power at full throttle.
Here’s what owners in the United States need to know about the differences between the two vehicles:
The A-Class has the lower floor, a smaller trunk and a smaller engine. That’s a critical feature in a sedan that’s marketed primarily as a fun roadster. The SL-Class does have a larger trunk than the A-Class. (The space of its rear seats is also slightly smaller.) More significant, however, is that the A-Class is wider. The SL’s roofline is somewhat higher, as well.
The SL-Class is also slightly cheaper than the A-Class. The ML-Class sedan, the SUV version of the A-Class, starts at $48,995 (plus $995 freight) while the A-Class ML starts at $51,500. And the SUV ML can go with an optional $5,600 transverse-lock differential.
The SL-Class still makes as much power as the A-Class, but it comes in at a much higher price and comes with a longer list of options.
The SL-Class, like its previous iterations, is essentially a performance coupe. That means it has minimal to no trunk space in favor of a high-sided roof. Like the A-Class, the SL, too, is a sportier, quieter and more refined vehicle than its sedan sibling.
The new SL will be available in 2019, in a body that’s slightly narrower than the current model and has a larger trunk. Its exterior styling features a deliberate nod to the sporty traditional styling of the Austin Power collection of athletic vehicles. While the SL retains the sloping roofline that gave the coupe its name, this makes it roughly 15 inches shorter than the current model, which has a sloping roofline as well.
Most of the other similarities between the two vehicles will remain between the two cars. The only “adding-on” options — at least initially — are the rear seats.
It’s far too early to determine whether the SL-Class will be as sought after among U.S. buyers as its predecessor. However, demand for its predecessor in the United States was extraordinarily high, so it’s likely that the SL’s second generation will be similarly popular.