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Next generation SL - hard top or soft top?

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Next generation SL - hard top or soft top?

 
Old 04-14-2019, 08:01 AM
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Next generation SL - hard top or soft top?

Hi all

God knows how much I have been waiting for the next gen SL R232 to have a hard top.......I have done so so much searching to see if the next one will have a hard top or not, from going to autobild, translating everything, to God knows what else.

I love convertibles. I really do. But paying 6 digits for one and for it to have fabric ? You have got to be kidding me. It makes the car look CHEAP. It is dumb that everyone is obsessed with speed, weight ,etc. I much prefer comfort and luxury over that. Not to mention security. I am sure modern soft tops are strong, but they appear weak. We live in a world that is all about looks. So if a vandal looks at a soft top, that soft top may be built with iron inside, but it still LOOKS vulnerable. Soft top lovers say it is classy and romantic. Well, wait until you see your soft top gets torn to pieces, see if it is still oh-so-classy and oh-so-romantic.

I heard that there is a member named Wolfman who has been providing accurate insider information.

So, will the next gen be a hard top? or a soft top? Seriously, C,E,S,AMG GT ALL soft top....cant we have at least one hard top!?!? Do I really have only the portofino as my only dream? It is a great great beautiful looking car dont get me wrong, but I want to see the SL with a hard top as well....

Last edited by adityaw; 04-14-2019 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 12:47 PM
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First of all, welcome to the forum.

There have been numerous discussions here on this topic and I do not recall one member voicing approval of the SL returning to a fabric top, let alone 2+2 seating. Unfortunately, as Wolfman has pretty much confirmed, through his various, “wired in” sources, the next generation SL will be a 2+2 with a rag top. Do some searching on this site and you will find videos and magazine clips that all pretty much confirm this. If the next SL does NOT have a fabric top, it will have been one of the, all time, new product deceptions by a major auto maker that I can ever recall. That said, I hope all this fabric top talk has, indeed, only been hype and not fact. Anyway, you can now still order a nice, new, 2020 R231. I say GO FOR IT!

P.S. You are so right about vandals: you have not lived, until some jerk slices through the fabric top on your big buck luxury car. Even if the entire cover is replaced with a factory original unit, the chances that the top will squeak, creak and not properly seal are huge. Been there, done that.

Last edited by Streamliner; 04-14-2019 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 04-14-2019, 04:42 PM
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Thank you Streamliner

I seriously am annoyed with car industry's obsession with soft tops. Not ALL cars have to focus on performance and lightness. Fabric roof simply_does_not look exclusive. It looks so CHEAP especially on a 6 digit car. Seriously only portofino, 720s spider and mx5 RF have this. I went to BMW forums and people were furious that next gen 4 series has 100% gone back soft top.

Man, no one can describe how much I find soft tops disgusting. Youve got this beautiful car, from the ground it is metal, and as you go up......FABRIC?!?!?!?! Those who love soft tops say dumb things like 'classy', 'romantic', 'light', etc. Sure, when you see your soft top gets cut to pieces, let's see if it is still 'classy' and 'romantic' lol....Buyers of SL will not track it so it is really ok to be heavy. We prioritize comfort and luxury over performance....

The R231 current gen is nice, but the infotainment/interior is very dated. I love the double 12.3 inch screens in the E and S. The ambient lighting also is too beautiful. Compare that to the R231 and it is quite old. I absolutely love the hard top and the magic sky control though. Genius idea.

Is there any way at all we can have a petition to get MB's attention? Seriously.
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Old 04-14-2019, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Streamliner View Post
First of all, welcome to the forum.

There have been numerous discussions here on this topic and I do not recall one member voicing approval of the SL returning to a fabric top, let alone 2+2 seating. Unfortunately, as Wolfman has pretty much confirmed, through his various, “wired in” sources, the next generation SL will be a 2+2 with a rag top. Do dome searching on this site and you will find videos and magazine clips that all pretty much confirm this. If the next SL does NOT have a fabric top, it will have been one of the, all time, new product deceptions by a major auto maker that I can ever recall. That said, I hope all this fabric top talk has, indeed, only been hype and not fact. Anyway, you can now still order a nice, new, 2020 R231. I say GO FOR IT!

P.S. You are so right about vandals: you have not lived, until some jerk slices through the fabric top on your big buck luxury car. Even if the entire cover is replaced with a factory original unit, the chances that the top will squeak, creak and not properly seal are huge. Been there, done that.
I truly wish there would be a hardtop version as well, but chances are almost nil given that AMG has design direction. I estimate the car might also come out later than anticipated. We'll see...

We now have the AMG GTC roadster. I can quickly sum up that the car drives dramatically better than the SL so this will benefit the next SL. Even though the car is firmer, my wife used a interesting comment. She said you are more "one" with a car. More control, no sense of weight of the engine in front. I am happy; she likes it
The car has a soft top but a tiny one as is it more of a cockpit cover. The cabin is smaller and with the top up the car would be a nightmare for anyone that is claustrophobic. The hardtop can not be beat for the airy feel with the top up. I love the Magic Sky. Unfortunately no sunny California weather for us so this matters. Last week dumped 15" inches of snow on us. Still not melted yet
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Old 04-14-2019, 11:11 PM
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So frustrating my posts have to be approved first....I just want to reply to you Wolfman.




Yes, AMG GT is a sports car. Its job is indeed to make the driver feel like he is one with the car. This is all fine with the AMG GT. But customers of the SL do not really prioritize that. SL is a grand tourer.




So Wolfman, you are almost 100% sure that the R232 will be a soft top? I am disgusted and sad but nothing I can do. Also a little off topic - since you have some insider information, do you know what will happen to the S-class coupe, if there will be a next gen? I heard the next gen S-class will be sedan only, and that the R232 will be offered with a soft top AND a coupe(fixed roof). Is this only a rumor or confirmed?
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Old 04-15-2019, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by adityaw View Post
Thank you Streamliner
The R231 current gen is nice, but the infotainment/interior is very dated. I absolutely love the hard top and the magic sky control though. Genius idea.
Is there any way at all we can have a petition to get MB's attention? Seriously.
The R231 did not sell well, compared to the R230 models. Even though some of this is the decreasing market for convertibles, I happen to feel that in the U.S., the reason is two-fold:

First, MB made Active Body Control (ABC) a $4,000.00+ option on the R231's, where it was standard on the R230's. This feature makes the car ride just beautifully, compared to the standard suspension. So, the vast majority of R231's that came to the U.S., ride on a suspension that gives a ride quite different than the previous models, which I believe turned off a lot of previous SL customers, when they test drove the new cars.

Secondly, after allowing R230 customers to choose the "Sport" or standard, "Non-Sport" body styles, for the R231 models, MBUSA imported only the AMG "Sport" body style, which I feel was unattractive in 2013-2016, especially at the front end. A beautiful, non-AMG Sport body was available in Germany, the UK and many other countries, but in the U.S., we had no choice. I never bought a new 2013-2016 model because of this. So, with previous SL customers turning away from the car, sales tanked and MB has treated the car as an "ugly stepchild" ever since. The fact that they can continue it, by piggybacking the new car design on the back of a new AMG model, is probably the only thing that has saved it.

As far as doing something about the new SL not being a hard top, what I have done, is I ordered a new 2019. The 2017-2020 car, IMO, has a more attractive body, even though I'm still not thrilled with it. I do wish the infotainment system was better, but my SL will be a third car and driven only for pleasure and never in a metro area, so the small screen just isn't that big of a deal to me. Sure, it's not the latest and greatest new thing, but after driving pretty much everything else out there, including the S560 Cabriolet, Bentley Continental, Ferrari California T, Porsche 911 Cab & Targa, I decided that for me, right now, the SL450 is the best fit for what I want. Maybe I'll go for an R232, maybe not, but for the time being, I'm happy that a nice, new 2019 will be here shortly. And, for what you get, I happen to think the current SL450 is a real bargain. You can order a new 2020 right now.

Last edited by Streamliner; 04-15-2019 at 02:29 PM.
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Old 04-15-2019, 03:03 PM
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I hope it didn't come across that I think the AMG GTC is better. It is a sports car vs a GT as already stated.

But at this point I had to make a decision of other convertible to get, decided to mix it up a bit andget something more sporty.
I was originally told that the SL would still be hard top but it appears virtually impossible to happen as the SL's model strategy merged with the discontinuation of the S-Class coupe & cab. The next SL will become the next S-Class convertible while still using the SL moniker. The S-Class coupe will still linger around, potentially into 2022.

The biggest turn-off isn't the soft top (as that is still part of the SL heritage), it is a 2+2 configuration...
That said, it has been difficult to get more info on the R232 at this time. I will report more as soon as I hear anything...
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Old 04-15-2019, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Streamliner View Post
The R231 did not sell well, compared to the R230 models. Even though some of this is the decreasing market for convertibles, I happen to feel that in the U.S., the reason is two-fold:

First, MB made Active Body Control (ABC) a $4,000.00+ option on the R231's, where it was standard on the R230's. This feature makes the car ride just beautifully, compared to the standard suspension. So, the vast majority of R231's that came to the U.S., ride on a suspension that gives a ride quite different than the previous models, which I believe turned off a lot of previous SL customers, when they test drove the new cars.

Secondly, after allowing R230 customers to choose the "Sport" or standard, "Non-Sport" body styles, for the R231 models, MBUSA imported only the AMG "Sport" body style, which I feel was unattractive in 2013-2016, especially at the front end. A beautiful, non-AMG Sport body was available in Germany, the UK and many other countries, but in the U.S., we had no choice. I never bought a new 2013-2016 model because of this. So, with previous SL customers turning away from the car, sales tanked and MB has treated the car as an "ugly stepchild" ever since. The fact that they can continue it, by piggybacking the new car design on the back of a new AMG model, is probably the only thing that has saved it.

As far as doing something about the new SL not being a hard top, what I have done, is I ordered a new 2019. The 2017-2020 car, IMO, has a more attractive body, even though I'm still not thrilled with it. I do wish the infotainment system was better, but my SL will be a third car and driven only for pleasure and never in a metro area, so the small screen just isn't that big of a deal to me. Sure, it's not the latest and greatest new thing, but after driving pretty much everything else out there, including the S560 Cabriolet, Bentley Continental, Ferrari California T, Porsche 911 Cab & Targa, I decided that for me, right now, the SL450 is the best fit for what I want. Maybe I'll go for an R232, maybe not, but for the time being, I'm happy that a nice, new 2019 will be here shortly. And, for what you get, I happen to think the current SL450 is a real bargain. You can order a new 2020 right now.
When the R230 was introduced, everybody was just wowed. The car looked great all around, was a huge leap in engineering, features and design from the prior R219 and introduced not just one but two models that could beat a Corvette with ease.
This car just a win-win in every aspect.

Expectations were equally high for the intro of the R231.
The biggest letdown was the looks. That car was simple not as pretty; some called it downright ugly. Journalists reviews were in agreement. The front end was designed by one team while the rear end by another. The car got wider for the wrong reason; to fit a golf bag into the trunk.
Technically it was only an evolution and making ABC an option didn't help.

People forgive just about anything if a car looks awesome and they will buy it. Technically the car is excellent, fast, comfortable and reliable but it just wasn't as desirable. I complained about that six years ago and things have gotten better as Streamliner stated and there is no better top-down car but sales were hurt even before the SUV craze slowed car sales down more.
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Old 04-15-2019, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
When the R230 was introduced, everybody was just wowed. The car looked great all around, was a huge leap in engineering, features and design from the prior R219 and introduced not just one but two models that could beat a Corvette with ease.
This car just a win-win in every aspect.

Expectations were equally high for the intro of the R231.
The biggest letdown was the looks. That car was simple not as pretty; some called it downright ugly. Journalists reviews were in agreement. The front end was designed by one team while the rear end by another. The car got wider for the wrong reason; to fit a golf bag into the trunk.
I will certainly defer to gentlemen like Streamliner and Wolfman with respect to Mercedes history, trends, and most of all customer behavior, as you're buying these cars new. I needed a car a few years old to put it in a budget that made sense, And I discussed the differences between the R230 and R231 with Rudeney before making my decision. He told me he opted for a post-facelift R230, as he liked the R230 better than the R231 but felt he had had several Benzes with the double oval headlamps. I too, had had several C-Classes and a couple of CLKs with that front, and even this beautiful example of an R230 (which I borrowed from the pic thread) looks too much like my last CLK to feel like an upgrade (although I do know it is):







I went a step further and determined that, for me at least, even the interior of the post-facelift R230 was too similar to my CLK550:




If money were no object, I'd have opted for a 2017 (post-facelift) R231, but the original R231 (in my case, a 2015 SL400) represented a huge step up in exterior and interior styling....
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:43 PM
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This was a conversation related to the R231 sales. One needs to remember that the SL’s design is less controversial today than it was seven years ago.

Meanwhile, MB’s design language has evolved and bolder designs have become the new normal (large grills, more extreme headlight designs, etc.).
I remember the outcry’s from people when the SL230 was facelifted to a bolder grill and different headlights.

Now the SL looks better and streamlined but to be honest, the 2013-2016 headlights and front fascia is still not that great looking. Mercedes has designed much better looking headlights than that. The Euro version also looked better with the white eyebrows vs the orange ones.

Not trying to be controversial; we had two of these cars but would have wished for better design. the rest of the cars remains quite modern where the R230 SL now looks dated...
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:48 AM
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Sigh....soft top it seems then. Anyway Wolfman, I will be waiting for when you get further info on R232!
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:38 AM
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I know I keep bringing this up and I know I’m beating a dead horse, but MB had, what I truly feel was a GORGEOUS R231 design, but the idiots at MBUSA refused to bring it to America. Customers in many countries had this choice available to them, but in the U.S.—arguably the largest market for the SL—we were denied this option. As far as I am concerned, MBUSA shot themselves in the foot by not making ABC standard on the R231 and by not offering their customers the choice of the non-AMG Sport Package body work, as pictured here. For several years prior, U.S. customers had their choice when ordering an SL: the regular body design or the AMG Sport Pkg. design. If it had remained that way with the R231’s, we wouldn’t be having this discussion now.


n
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:10 PM
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I had a conversation yesterday with MB's designo group in Georgia. These are the folks who provide the liaison between American customers wanting to customize their cars and the MB factory in Germany. I was inquiring as to the timing of production of a 2020 SL 450 build. I was told that interior customization would add 12 weeks to production and that if I ordered my car in January of 2020, I might run up against the end of the 2020 production and the beginning of 2021 production. In this case, my car might be at risk of becoming part of the 2021 production. Additionally, because the R231 was at the end of its lifecycle, I might be in danger of having my SL450 cancelled altogether. At this point the person with whom I was speaking said that he was unable to comment further as to the future of the SL line. I jumped in and added what I knew (thank you Wolfman and Streamliner) about the SL's future as a 2+2 soft top designed and built by AMG to see what kind of a reaction I might get. The MB representative laughed and said that I seemed to be well informed, but that he could neither confirm nor deny my suspicions. For me, that was confirmation that if I wanted a two seat retractable hard top roadster, I needed to order it no later than this fall if I want it customized and no later than the middle of Feb if I want a standard model. Just throwing that out there.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by PHSWOOD View Post
I had a conversation yesterday with MB's designo group in Georgia. These are the folks who provide the liaison between American customers wanting to customize their cars and the MB factory in Germany. I was inquiring as to the timing of production of a 2020 SL 450 build. I was told that interior customization would add 12 weeks to production and that if I ordered my car in January of 2020, I might run up against the end of the 2020 production and the beginning of 2021 production. In this case, my car might be at risk of becoming part of the 2021 production. Additionally, because the R231 was at the end of its lifecycle, I might be in danger of having my SL450 cancelled altogether. At this point the person with whom I was speaking said that he was unable to comment further as to the future of the SL line. I jumped in and added what I knew (thank you Wolfman and Streamliner) about the SL's future as a 2+2 soft top designed and built by AMG to see what kind of a reaction I might get. The MB representative laughed and said that I seemed to be well informed, but that he could neither confirm nor deny my suspicions. For me, that was confirmation that if I wanted a two seat retractable hard top roadster, I needed to order it no later than this fall if I want it customized and no later than the middle of Feb if I want a standard model. Just throwing that out there.
The R231 may carry for another model year into MY21. All depends how fast the new development comes along.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:33 PM
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It may (and I pray you're correct), but that's not the sense I got from my conversation.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by PHSWOOD View Post
It may (and I pray you're correct), but that's not the sense I got from my conversation.
We'll see. So far, the R232 shows for late 2020
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:10 PM
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In my latest issue of Car & Driver, under "The 25 Cars Worth Waiting For," was this on the upcoming SL:




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Old 04-16-2019, 02:19 PM
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MB's decision to abandon the lovely Vario Folding Hardtop Roof in favor of yet another Cabriolet Soft Top, may just mark 'the beginning of the end' for the Mercedes SL Class!...

If someone had asked 'What's the absolute WORST thing that MB could do with the next generation SL Class?, (that could prevent the car from being successful in the marketplace, and discourage 'Repeat Buyers'), I am quite certain that abandoning the folding hardtop would be the #1 answer from loyal SL Owners like myself!..

I expect sales of the next generation SL Class to suffer greatly because it is now clear that the '232' will NOT have the folding hardtop!..

The only thing left to say now is: 'Long Live the 231' SL Class!..

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Old 04-16-2019, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by bob55 View Post
Abandoning that lovely Vario Folding Hardtop Roof in favor of yet another Cabriolet Soft Top, may just mark 'the beginning of the end' for the Mercedes SL Class!

I predict sales of the SL Class will plummet without a folding hardtop!

I guess the only thing left to say now is... 'Long Live the 231' SL Class!..
I think you are overdoing it. Love the hardtop but... the SL has been around for 65 years. The folding hardtop has been around for 18.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:30 PM
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Yes, but certainly 18-years with the (230-231) SL folding hardtop was more than enough time to 'spoil' a lot of us, and 'turn us off' to the idea of wanting to own an 'old school' soft top convertible! .

Can't ever see myself wanting to 'go backwards' to a soft top now, especially when I remember how much I disliked those that I owned in the past. So YES, the 2002-2020 SL Class folding hardtop has certainly 'spoiled me for all time', and I have no regrets whatsoever in saying that!

Once you've experienced 'the promised land', you never want to go back to where you started from!...

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Old 04-16-2019, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by bob55 View Post
Yes, but certainly 18-years of the SL folding hardtop was enough time to 'spoil' a lot of us .and 'turn some us off' to the idea of owning an 'old school' soft top convertible! .

Can't ever see myself going 'backwards' to a soft top now, so YES, the 2002-2020 SL Class folding hardtop certainly 'spoiled me'.for all time, and I have no regrets in saying it!
Yeah, me too. I have not so fond memories of my 1972, 1979, 1986, 1990 & 1991 SL's with the fabric roofs. Admittedly, the new ones are far superior, but they are still a major part of the vehicle that is made of FABRIC, which makes it vulnerable, and it's just not the same. I also have BAD memories of the removable hard tops that came with all of those earlier SL's. What an absolute pain in the butt those were. You had to be SO careful putting them on and taking them off, so as not to scratch or dent the car. Then, when they were off the car, you had to have a place to store them. Just the fact that MB put those removable hard tops on those cars, shows you how much THEY felt the hard top added to the comfort of the SL. Then, when the retractable hard top came along, that was the panacea and folks like me were jumping for joy! Just the idea of having a convertible with a folding hard top, got me to buy a 2002 Lexus SC430, the year before the SL had the feature. The new R232 will probably be a great car, but to me, it will be a step backwards in technology. And Wolfman makes a great point that top down wind turbulence is much worse in a 2+2 than it is in a two seat car. It's just going to be a completely different animal. Oh well, you can still order a new R231 and there are many, very nice ones on the secondary market. If you've been waiting to pull the trigger, now might be the time.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:35 PM
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Our '81 never experienced an issue with the soft top, and we toured like crazy in it. Now we did also have the removable hard top, but it did indeed take some effort to make that switch, which we usually did for winter. The obvious is the ability to go from coupe to drop top in a matter of seconds; and I will admit to being spoiled with that convenience. But while the seating position in the R107 was rather upright, the hard top and soft top provided good room for a guy my height, 6'3". And I will admit that I thought about these comments when I was taking my golf clubs out of the trunk today, having driven over to the course with the top down!
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:23 AM
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Auto motor und sport just released an article 1 day ago. So it says Tobias Moers confirmed that the R232 will be developed in Affalterbach. This guy......actually said before that the rumor of R232 being made by AMG is wrong.....now its the complete opposite and he is saying its true.....Now I understand why many say it is quite normal for him to do something like this lol. Anyway, yea, from the article it seems 2+2 and soft top are a certainty.

What I really do want to know is.....will the R232 be offered with a fixed-roof/coupe, in addition to the soft top?
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by adityaw View Post
Auto motor und sport just released an article 1 day ago. So it says Tobias Moers confirmed that the R232 will be developed in Affalterbach. This guy......actually said before that the rumor of R232 being made by AMG is wrong.....now its the complete opposite and he is saying its true.....Now I understand why many say it is quite normal for him to do something like this lol. Anyway, yea, from the article it seems 2+2 and soft top are a certainty.

What I really do want to know is.....will the R232 be offered with a fixed-roof/coupe, in addition to the soft top?
I wouldn't wait for a coupe. The one thing that this article also mentioned, which is what I had heard was that the SL will be later for 21, making it a 22.
That could mean a possible gap like we had at the end of the R230...
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Old 04-17-2019, 05:05 PM
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2016 E350 Sedan, 2018 S560 Sedan, 2019 SL450
Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
I wouldn't wait for a coupe. The one thing that this article also mentioned, which is what I had heard was that the SL will be later for 21, making it a 22.
That could mean a possible gap like we had at the end of the R230...
I don't remember a gap. What happened?
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Quick Reply: Next generation SL - hard top or soft top?


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