Retractable Mercedes SL hardtop on borrowed time

Mercedes is celebrating the SL's 60 years of service with plans for a complete overhaul. There is no doubt that the Mercedes SL is one of the company's iconic creations, with the folding hardtop roof of the last two generations being one of the main selling points of this high-priced luxury convertible; however, recent news points to the fact that the retractable hardtop of the SL could soon be a thing of the past.

Mercedes wants to develop a more economical version of the SL and SLK roadsters. Sales have not been particularly strong since the recession and the company is also keen on the idea of inter-changeable parts between models. With weight also an issue, it looks highly likely that the new generation SL will return to the old electronically-retractable fabric roof last used on the R129.

Even though the novelty value of the folding hardtop has become a Mercedes trademark over the past 20 years, its weight makes a definite inroad into fuel economy. This is just too much of an issue nowadays, even for the luxury car market.

The next generation SL is not due to arrive until 2021; therefore, the good news is that there is still plenty of time for Mercedes to reconsider.