One of F1's greatest partnerships came to life on the road in 2003. A Silver Arrow that is black... Yet, we still don't know what kind of car it is.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, here we find ourselves in front of a funny paradox. This is the Mercedes-Benz SLR Mclaren, and nobody really knows what’s its purpose in life. Everybody knows Mercedes-Benz, and nearly everybody knows Mclaren Automotive. Long before Mercedes joined F1 as a proper team, they were associated to the once awe-successful Mclaren team. This happened between 1995 and 2014 and during that time, the rivalry between Ferrari and #Mclaren was stronger than ever. In 2002, the prancing horse launched the mighty Ferrari Enzo. A new mid-engine flagship with a V12 developing 660 PS. Back in the days, the Enzo was the closest thing to an F1 car you could find. For #MercedesBenz and Mclaren, it was time to push the boundaries of this competition off the track and give the Enzo a good run for its money.
The answer was the SLR. A car co-developed and built by Mclaren in Woking, UK. They wanted to create a Silver Arrow for the road. Still reminiscent of their latest road-going, game-changing F1, one could expect the SLR to become the best supercar ever. That didn’t happen.
What is the SLR? Nobody really knows. Is it a supercar? Is it a GT? Is it both? Maybe, its name says it all, Sport Leicht Rennsport (Sport Light Racing). Nope,it still doesn’t feel like a sporty light racecar. In fact, this car is not what you’d call anorexic. Actually, it’s more like the Mike Tyson of supercars. Yes, it’s mighty and very powerful with its 626 PS V8, but with nearly 1770 kg on the balance, this car is quite a Bigmac. On the other hand, an Enzo weights only 1255kg… Hard to understand that when you know that all the body of the SLR is made of carbon fiber. Isn’t it supposed to be light? Why would they bother to make this car so light and then add unnecessary heavy stuff like the automatic gearbox, over-garnished interior, cruise control, air condition etc… It feels like you have Usain Bolt wearing a big Canada Goose jacket for a race.
First question answered, the SLR is not a light car. Additionally, it’s not a racecar because, well you can drive it on the road. And finally, is it sporty? Let me start by saying that the SLR is fast. Very fast. It goes from 0-100 km/h in only 3.5 seconds and will reach over 330 km/h.
On paper, this isn’t too bad. Then, you learn that this engine is coupled to a 5-speed automatic gearbox, and that its engine is mounted up front. Like a GT. This car is such a weirdo. It’s like they have tried to blend a luxurious Mercedes-Benz with a Mclaren racer. The result is a racer in an accessible and nice package. That's it! the SLR is dressed as a GT, and behaving as a supercar. Now, let’s talk about money! When this car came out, the price tag was approximately half a million dollars. With more than 2000 units produced, the car isn’t as rare as an Enzo or a Porsche Carrera GT, so the prices slightly went down. Still, this car isn’t Honda Accord budget. This particular car is listed at CHF 260’000.-. Then, you learn that replacing the hood costs as much as a brand new Mercedes-Benz C63 S AMG!!! ($75’000). Oh, and then you also learn that a service costs as much as a CLA 45 AMG ($50’000). This is the price of exclusivity.
So, this car came out around the same time as the Ferrari Enzo and the Porsche Carrera GT. Yet, the SLR stands out because it is more livable and comfortable than its direct competitors. You couldn’t take a Carrera GT to go shopping at Tesco or take an Enzo for long trips. The SLR will do this just fine. Yes it feels less like a racer for the road, and that’s why it shouldn’t even be compared to the two others. The Ferrari 599 GTB may be the real competition after all. Anyway, their true race car will come out next year, and it’s called Project One.
Mercedes-Benz SLR Mclaren
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car. Website: www.peregocars.com/en Facebook: www.facebook.com/peregocars/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/peregocars/