The next-gen SL Roadster is in the dynamic testing stage, suggesting it should debut early next year.

Few automakers appear to draw from their history the way that Mercedes-Benz does and it’s reaching back to its roots again to update is next-generation SL Roadster.

While not quite ready for primetime, the German automaker is hyping its looming return in Mercedes-AMG form with several pictures of a couple of prototypes running through their paces on German roadways, covered in a skin designed to make it tough to get a good look at hard details.

The company is calling the new model a “reinterpretation” of the original coupe from 1952, and the early pics taken during dynamic testing at the maker’s Test and Technology Center in Immendingen, and now also on public roads in some cases, clearly show a tie to its past — the iconic 300 SL competition racing car of 1952.

(And another one bites the dust: Farewell Mercedes SLC.)

The automaker just cancelled the SLC Roadster, only hinting that something could replace it. This AMG-powered model suggests it’s more than a hint.

The new SL’s photo shoot comes after the German maker ends production of the Mercedes SLC Roadster.

Originally known as the SLK, this compact two-door sports coupe made a buzz early on, in part due to its origami-style folding hardtop, as well as a reasonably affordable entry prices. But the German marque over-extended its line-up during the past few decades and is rationalizing its mix, starting with the SLC.

However, the presence of the SL pre-production model clearly shows that the company plans to offer a small open-air sports car for the future. There are some differences between the outgoing and new models. The first is that the SLC featured a folding hard top while the test model is sporting a soft top.

(Major remake for renamed Mercedes SLC roadster.)

The new model looks a little lower and more nimble than its predecessor. The reduced weight due to the shift away from the folding hard top will only add to that feeling. It also may be a bit smaller than the previous model as there are reports it’s based on the AMG GT platform.

Given that the company is road testing pre-production models, it seems likely the final product will be on the road in fall 2021.

Since it’s a Mercedes-AMG creation, it will be a performance machine. Speculation about the numbers has the “entry-level” model being powered by an inline 6 cylinder engine putting out somewhere between 420 and 430 horsepower.

The next model up will likely use a variant of AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 powerplant, and expect that to hit the road with horsepower numbers exceeding 600 hp. Given the point the company is at in testing, the curtain should raise in early 2021 with deliveries starting in the fall.

(Mercedes drops the covers on the 2017 SL Roadster.)

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