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Although the 2018 Mercedes-AMG SL43 is the entry-level model in the grand tourer series, it is far from simple. Despite having half as many cylinders as its higher-performance V-8-powered SL55 and SL63 brothers, the turbocharged inline-four in this model boasts technology drawn from Formula 1 that promises enhanced responsiveness.
The show-stopper on the SL43 is a turbocharger with an electric motor and standard exhaust-gas piping. The M139 2.0-liter inline-four, which also powers the CLA45 and GLA45 AMG variants, is used in this production vehicle for the first time. The motor is positioned on the shaft between the turbine and compressor wheels and is only about an inch and a half thick. The idea is that this motor can spin the compressor wheel ahead of the exhaust gases, decreasing turbo lag, delivering near-instant reaction when the driver pegs the throttle, and sustaining boost pressure even when the driver gets off the gas or hits the brakes. The Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team uses turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 hybrids with the same technology.
The four-cylinder engine produces a continuous total of 376 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, with a 13-horsepower boost available from the 48-volt, belt-driven starter-generator. The SL43 can also recuperate energy while slowing and smoothing out the engine’s start-stop function thanks to the 48-volt arrangement. The M139 is positioned longitudinally in the SL43 for the first time, and is connected to a nine-speed automatic gearbox with an AMG-style wet clutch pack in place of a torque converter. The rear-wheel-drive roadster, according to Mercedes, can reach 62 mph in 4.9 seconds on its way to a peak speed of 170 mph.
The SL43 is distinguished from the 55 and 63 by a few small visual differences. The tailpipes are rounded, and the rear bumper has been streamlined by removing the vents from behind the wheels. The front bumper has been modified, and the SL43 comes standard with 19-inch wheels, with 20- and 21-inch wheels available as options. The SL43 has yet to be confirmed for the US market, according to a Mercedes representative who told Car and Driver that the roadster “is presently still under consideration for the US market.” If it does make it to our shores, anticipate it to be far less expensive than the SL55, which is expected to cost roughly $135,000.