Remember how Rocky got a little fat and happy as world champ, and had to get back to basics as he prepared to take on Russian superman Ivan Drago in Rocky IV? That's where Mercedes' lovely SL roadster finds itself today, so they enlisted their AMG high-performance division to help get the company's original sports car back into fighting shape.
That's according to Britain's Autocar magazine, which found a source inside Mercedes who said that AMG has been tasked with giving the next-generation SL "a more sporting character."
This will be a welcome return for anyone who appreciated the classic gullwing SL and its roadster sibling for representing performance high-water marks during their era. Today, no one mistakes the SL for a performance car, but that will change when the new SL arrives.
A key change is Mercedes' switch back to an inline six-cylinder engine, with the inherent perfect balance and soulful exhaust note such an arrangement provides. The base version of the turbocharged engine will produce 365 horsepower, according to Autocar's report, while a version with higher boost pressure will produce 435 horsepower.
In keeping with recent practice, there will still be twin-turbo V8 and V12 models, with the 621-horsepower 6.0-liter V12 SL65 topping the line.
There's more to fitness than muscle, so the upcoming SL will also lose weight. That means the folding metal hardtop is gone, replaced by a traditional soft convertible roof. The new car will be built on a chassis shared with the smaller SLC convertible, which should make it easier for the SL to reclaim its once-svelte figure.
AMG has earned a reputation for doing things the right way, so we fully expect the next SL to be a taut performance weapon, ready to defeat the Ivan Dragos of the performance car world.