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

The new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL brought back many features that were available on its predecessors; it notably comes with a foldable fabric soft top. According to a recent report, it could also become the first SL to offer a four-cylinder engine since the early 1960s.

Without citation, enthusiastic website MB Passion wrote that an entry-level model called SL43 will be added to the lineup in March 2022. It will trade in the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 from the SL55 and SL63 variants for a 2.0-liter four-cylinder equipped with an electric turbocharger. The engine (internally called M254) will reportedly develop 390 horsepower, although a mild-hybrid system will add 20 horses to the cavalry. It sounds like the 43 comes standard with rear-wheel drive; in contrast, both V8-powered models here are four-wheel drive only.

Subtle visual tweaks will set the SL43 apart from the V8-powered models, including round exhaust vents. 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 has not commented on the report and has not announced plans to expand the SL range downwards. If the report is correct, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL43 will make its debut in the coming weeks and 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 we probably won’t see again. We have to travel to 1955 to find a four-cylinder engine under the hood of an SL.

Mercedes-Benz launched the nameplate in 1954 as a gull-wing coupe with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder between the long fenders, adding a two-seat roadster powered by a 1.9-litre four-cylinder called the 190SL (pictured above) to its catalog of 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 through a four-speed manual transmission. Production ended in 1963 when the second-generation model made its debut, and each subsequent SL had six or more cylinders.