2023 Mercedes-AMG SL 43, Redefining an AMG

  • story by Trenton O. Gibson
  • photos by Dylan W. Hauptmeier
  • posted on 04/2024
  • posted in: Newswire

When Mercedes-AMG announced this new generation SL would be available with a 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged w/ hybrid assist motor, SL fans and AMG fans alike questioned what Mercedes-Benz was thinking. “Well maybe the 4 cylinder will be considerably less expensive?” we asked ourselves. While technically true, the SL 43 AMG is $31,400 cheaper than its bigger sister SL 55 AMG, and a considerable $73,100 cheaper than the SL 63 AMG. However, the SL 43 AMG is still a six figure car, our press demo was $125,835 with all the right options. We were skeptical this 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged w/ hybrid assist motor is AMG money with none of the performance, but as a package, the SL 43 not only challenges the importance of performance figures, but what it means to be an AMG.

When reviewing the Mercedes-AMG EQE, initial thought was it would be the redefining test of “What makes an AMG, an AMG?”, but thanks to the immense power and torque produced by its EV drivetrain, engineers were able to deliver AMG performance relatively easily. However, when it comes to making a 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged motor feel like it belongs in the AMG heritage tree, and give owners the feeling their over $110,000 sports car is in fact a real AMG, the SL 43 had to deliver the AMG performance from such a small capacity motor.

Thanks to the cleverness of the 4-cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged w/ hybrid assist and rapid AMG speed shift 9-speed dual clutch transmission, the SL 43 delivers exciting sports car performance. Proper AMGs are no longer just the twin-turbo V8s and crazy 0-60 time EV’s, it is time the smaller capacity motors deserve their recognition as well. How does this 4-cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged motor pack so much punch? The SL 43 benefits from technology handed down straight from Mercedes-AMG’s Formula 1 team. The most effective of this Formula 1 technology in the SL 43 is the hybrid assist turbocharger, essentially a electric motor spooling the turbocharger to maximum boost much quicker than conventional exhaust driven turbochargers. The result in performance feels like you’re on boost, no matter where you are in the rev range, delivering max power and torque more consistency. There is one “issue” with this technology however, twice the SL 43 kept accelerating at full power after backing off the accelerator. This moment of unanticipated acceleration was exciting and terrifying, 375 hp feels like 1,000 hp, reminiscent of the power surge from big turbo sport cars in the ‘80s.


375 hp and 354 lbs of torque, 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds is the SL 43’s performance by the numbers, but as I mentioned earlier, this 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged w/ hybrid assist drivetrain challenges how those numbers feel when they’re put to the pavement. This little 2.0 liter motor is angry, just as angry as the twin-turbo V8s in the AMG range. Even at idle, the sports exhaust is buzzing away, under acceleration and declaration the exhaust pops and bangs just as any high strung performance car would. The transmission and on the SL43 AMG is practically perfect, an area that has been the achilles heel to AMGs and performance Mercedes-Benz in the past. The SL 43, in second gear, taken all the way to redline, is only going 52 mph, a completely acceptable speed to squeeze any car on Phoenix’s large surface streets. While 52 mph does not sound like much, with the SL’s top down, you hear the angry motor under the hood, exhaust popping and banging, and turbocharger spooled to 170,000 rpm, the experience is just as exciting as any other $125K sports car on the market.

2023 Mercedes-AMG SL 43

Styling of the SL 43, or any new SL for that matter, makes no difference where you are in the range. In an industry made of up-badging and developing visual tactics to get customers to pay more, Mercedes-Benz has pulled a 360, the numbers on the back of the car only change what is under the hood. This generation SL is all about bringing the model back to its sports car roots, and the styling has followed suit. Body lines, size and proportions all work well in giving the sports car feel, without being “small”. Styling cues are similar to a stretched Mercedes-AMG GT S, rather than a large luxury convertible from the past.


The previous generation SL was essentially the same car from 2003-2020, just face lifted and tweaked along the way. Owners and fans of the previous SL’s styling, performance, and size, should look at the new E-Class Cabriolet. The E-Class Cab. has sim

ilar dimensions to the last generation SL, a more comfort focused ride, and offers a range topping E53 AMG Cabriolet with 429 hp and 384 lbs of torque, 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG has hit it out of the park with this latest generation of SL, and new offerings of AMG performance. The SL’s focus shifting from luxury convertible, to convertible sports car was more than just a marketing exercise, this new generation is completely fresh, starting from the ground up. What surprised us most about this SL 43 however was AMG’s ability to crank a 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged motor to 11, giving the SL 43 a true AMG driving experience. With this new 4 cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged w/ hybrid assist drivetrain, an AMG is no longer defined by twin-turbo V8s, but the excitement/angryness AMG builds into any of their power plants.