Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Mercedes-Benz SL could get its first four-cylinder in nearly 60 years

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The new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL brought back a lot of features that were available on its predecessors; it notably comes with a power-folding cloth soft top. It could also become the first SL to offer a four-cylinder engine since the early 1960s, according to a recent report.

Without citing sources, enthusiast website MB Passion wrote that an entry-level model called SL43 will join the line-up in March 2022. It will trade the twin-turbocharged, 4.0-liter V8 found in the SL55 and SL63 variants for a 2.0-liter four equipped with an electric turbocharger. The engine (which is called M254 internally) will reportedly develop 390 horsepower, though a mild-hybrid system will add 20 horses to the cavalry. It sounds like the 43 will come standard with rear-wheel-drive; in contrast, both V8-powered models are all-wheel-drive-only here.

Subtle visual tweaks will set the SL43 apart from the V8-powered models, including round exhaust outlets. Looking ahead, the M254 engine will also appear in the entry-level version of the next-generation GT coupe and in the mid-range C43 evolution of the W206 C-Class.

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t commented on the report, and it hasn’t announced plans to expand the SL range towards the bottom. If the report is accurate, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL43 will make its debut in the coming weeks, and it will go on sale in some markets in March 2022.

Rear-view mirror

For decades, the SL has been associated with prestigious large-displacement engines; the past three generations were even available with a mighty V12, a configuration that we’re unlikely to see again. We need to travel to 1955 to find a four-cylinder engine under an SL’s hood.

Mercedes-Benz launched the nameplate in 1954 as a coupe with gullwing doors and a 3.0-liter straight-six between its long fenders, and it added a two-seater roadster powered by a 1.9-liter four called 190SL (pictured above) to its catalog the following year. Fed by a pair of Solex carburetors, the M121 engine sent 105 horsepower and 105 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual transmission. Production ended in 1963, when the second-generation model made its debut, and every subsequent SL had six or more cylinders.

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