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SLR McLaren First Look Last Look
Mercedes-Benz has been building expensive luxury cars for as long as I can remember. This year they have ventured into the territory of the truly expensive with the Maybach and the SLR McLaren. Rolls-Royce and Bentley have been in this ultra luxury class for quite some time as this is their market niche. When BMW decided to enter this marketplace they did it by buying The Rolls-Royce brand and leaving the BMW brand untarnished. If you are wondering how an ultra luxury dream car can tarnish a company’s image you only have to look as far as the new SLR McLaren.
The SLR McLaren has the first engine ever developed exclusively by AMG Mercedes. At 617 Horsepower this car could be the most powerful car sold by a major manufacturer on the planet. In fact they had plans for the next generation of this car to cross into the unknown territory of 700 horsepower. These plans have been scrapped as McLaren the ultra high end sports car company from England has decided to end this relationship with Mercedes because they thought it would tarnish their brand image. McLaren had initially signed an agreement to build 3,500 cars over seven years, with almost half of these cars going to dealers in the United States. With this arrangement terminated before even 1,000 cars were produced this is one high end exotic you may never actually see on the road.
In fact this is the only major manufactures super car that I could not find at any dealership. These cars will continue to sell because they are the most exotic car that Mercedes-Benz has to offer and the success of their Gull wing Mercedes of the fifties that has become one of the most valuable collector cars of all time makes the demand for this car substantial.
The problem with this car is although it is a really good track car; it can’t be driven over the slightest bumpy roads. This car will literally beat you up. This car is so stiff that driving it can only be compared to the feeling you get when sledding down a freshly covered mountain and you hit a patch of rocks.
Although the price of $443,000 does not make it as expensive as a Ferrari Enzo at $625,000 it does make it the same price as a Porsche Carrera GT. This Porsche has a zero to one hundred that is a full second faster, seven seconds versus eight, and has a much lower stopping distance. Whereas This Porsche has become an instant classic amongst the automobile literati, The SLR McLaren has been mostly sold to Mercedes owners who want to move up.
The sad part of the new SLR McLaren story is that Mercedes did not need to build this car. Mercedes makes a car the CLK DTM AMG that is totally awesome, and would have been a better step up car from the SL 600. Mercedes is only building 100 of these cars, but could have built a couple of thousand. At $300,000 this car does get 40 fewer horsepower then the SLK but has an identical zero to sixty time of 3.7 seconds. The great thing about the DTM is that gear heads will know it is the real deal without disenfranchising all of the other Mercedes-Benz owners.
The good news about this car is that it is a luxury car. When you think about the 617 horsepower under hood, that is only about a hundred horsepower less then the 725 horsepower that NASCAR cars have that race on Sundays, it is amazing how refined a vehicle this car is. The interior is bright red leather that covers just about everything except the speedometer. The car only comes in the Mercedes signature brilliant metallic silver and with a Mercedes medallion that must measure at least six inches in diameter inlaid into the front of the hood the car doesn’t say Mercedes in any voice less then a roar. The extended hood looks a little like the SL 65AMG but with a longer hood. The car it self is 183 inches long, 5 inches longer then the SL 65 and 4 inches wider. The SL 65 AMG has 604 horsepower, more torque then the McLaren and a zero to sixty time a little more then a 1/3 of a second slower. However, with a price of $183,000 it cost 260k less then the SLR McLaren. Mercedes did not build the SLR McLaren to make the SL 65 AMG seem affordable, but they might have accomplished this as an unintended consequence.
The truth about this car is that Mercedes did succeed in building an excellent track car with the SLR McLaren that can easily hold its own in any stock race. The problem with this car is that without a league set up for these races these cars will most likely lead lonely lives in the garages of extremely rich car collectors who will bypass this car for something else in their stable when they decided to take one of their exotics out on a Sunday afternoon.
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