High-end, sporty convertibles from the world’s top brands were once symbols of ultimate luxury and driving dynamics. However, the world of prestigious automobiles is today dominated by over-the-top SUVs (sport utility vehicles) or lightning-fast supercars, so those elegant, open-top models seem like titans of the forgotten past. Fortunately for those buyers who still prefer gran turismo credentials over bulky SUVs, Mercedes and BMW now offer two distinctive models that will definitely appeal to those who want to experience supercar-like performance with the wind in their hair but crave ultimate luxury and highest-quality materials. Both cars are actual driver’s cars with composed handling and fantastic design but also 2+2 seating capacity, making them surprisingly practical. Yes, we are talking about the brand-new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL models (55 and 63) and BMW’s sublimely fast M8 Competition in convertible form.
2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 55/63
The SL nameplate is one of the most cherished monikers of Mercedes’ history. Introduced in the early 1950s through a thoroughbred race car, it evolved into a luxury roadster with GT (grand touring) potential, staying at the top of its class over the next five decades. But although the SL constantly stayed in production, sales numbers were diminutive, and Mercedes realized that it needed to completely revamp this model and introduce it to the 21st-century buyer. So, they took cues from the successful AMG GT model (which had drawn some customers away from the aging SL lineup) and introduced a completely new generation. Called Mercedes-AMG SL (factory code R232), this is a modern take on those classic, inspirational cars of the past in every way.
This seventh-generation model marks a departure from the original SL concept in several aspects. First, it was engineered with the help of the AMG department, using experience with the AMG GT model as a guide. Second, it abandons the folding metal roof (of previous generations) in favor of a lighter and more old-school canvas convertible top. Third, this legendary roadster is produced with all-wheel drive for the first time in the SL’s long and rich history. Yes, it is quite a departure from the original formula, but it offers extraordinary driving characteristics and impressive grip.
And grip it needs. The well-known 4.0-liter, V 8-cylinder engine powers the new 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL alongside two turbochargers, producing an insane amount of grunt. This compact but very powerful unit is available in two versions. The entry-level Mercedes-AMG SL 55 boasts 476 horsepower (hp) and 700 newton-meters (Nm) of torque, while the SL 63 has 585 hp and a massive 800 Nm of torque. Both models feature the same nine-speed automatic transmission and intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which is needed to transfer such enormous power to the ground. The 0-to-60-miles-per-hour (mph) times are 3.6 and 3.8 seconds, respectively, and the top speed is 183 mph for the less powerful SL 55 and 196 mph for the SL 63.
However, the biggest news is that the rear seats are actually usable, even though they are suitable for smaller adults and children. This is not the first time in history that the SL was available with such a feature. However, the rear seats were always just a marketing gimmick. These are real and functional, transforming the SL into a GT convertible for families with small kids. Of course, since this is a luxury car of the highest order, the interior is covered in fine leather with all the features you should expect in a Mercedes.
2022 BMW M8 Competition Convertible
Although BMW was well represented in the performance-car class with its M3 and M5 sedans, the Bavarian company for a long time didn’t have a true GT competitor. In 2018, the new 8-Series was revealed, but enthusiasts waited for the M version. In true M Performance fashion, the high-performance model was introduced a year and a half later with a special engine, exterior package, unique features, lightning-fast acceleration and top speeds. But that is not all; for true connoisseurs looking for ultimate power with an open-air feel, BMW now offers the M8 Competition Convertible.
Developed under factory code G91, the M8 Competition Convertible is a soft-top version of the M8 coupé. This Bavarian thoroughbred is powered by a 4.4-liter, V8 engine with two turbochargers delivering 591 hp in the standard model but 617 hp in the Competition version, while the torque stays the same (750 Nm). As expected, the power is delivered to all four wheels over the BMW xDrive system, enabled to send all of its power to the rear axle. There is no manual option, and buyers will receive modern ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. The performance specs are brutal, and the M8 Competition Convertible can accelerate to 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds and top 190 mph.
Because the M8 Competition is significantly longer than the Mercedes-AMG SL, it offers more interior space and luggage capacity, crucial for customers looking for both performance and practicality. Still, the rear seats in the M8 Competition are not as comfortable as those of the M5, on which this car is based, but offer more space than those in the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL. Of course, BMW prepared its top model with only the best materials and features. You can expect a unique leather interior, range of trim finishes and special canvas folding roof, which will stay in place even when you are chasing 200 mph on the Autobahn.
Both of these fantastic machines are true representatives of a particular class of vehicle designed to go fast, look great but still offer everyday usability. We hope that these two examples will inspire other manufacturers to offer similar vehicles and draw attention to the fact that the ideals of automotive luxury can be found not only on comfy SUV seats but also in the bucket seats of thoroughbred GT convertibles while cruising the French Riviera. However, even though the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL is clearly a step in the right direction, we have to give a slight advantage to the 2022 BMW M8 Competition Convertible. We choose this car as the winner because it offers more interior space, slightly more power and better performance—all of which make it more suitable for everyday driving than the SL.