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.

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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.

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