Mercedes-Benz SL 500 takes away the sky in exchange for pleasure.
All Mercedes without the AMG prefix have an inoperable stabilization system. But once you remove the 1st limit of defense with the button “ESP off” – and 500 30 “newtons”, suppressing the resistance of Abs, cut the leash.
Start! Left a little steering wheel and full throttle. Abs absorbed by wheels, yields instantly under the avalanche of torque. The rear axle overtakes: the roadster looks like it’s trying to show the photographer the stern. Look, the restyling hasn’t touched it! Light hard steering to the right. The tires are bubbling. The ESP triangle blinking hysterically on the dashboard. But it is not electronics, but the driver dictates the rules: it is possible to delay Mercedes in power slip endlessly. One more go. More skid angle! More smoke, more creep. The engine’s roaring at a hundred and sixty-five thousand euros. I want more, I took the bait. And all of a sudden, clack!! With a loud snap of a downed spring a safety arc rises behind my back. The mousetrap slammed shut.
Oh, Mercedes, you overreactor! Who told you I was going to flip this thing over?? If it was a standard SL, I’d think about it, but with the AMG bodywork, the roadster is almost perfect. What am I going to do now, you timid little soul? Because with a discharged spring, I can’t fold the roof. And I can’t get to the service this weekend. ¶¶ So the whole test’s gonna go on under the hood ¶¶!
No matter how annoying it would sound, such Mercedes’ law protected by non-disabling ESP: if you want cheese (i.e. to ride a smart roadster sideways) – be ready to pay for pleasure. In the amount of about three service standard-hours. And maybe it’s better that the roof is blocked. Without exposure to the sun and the freshest air, it’s easier for me to remain objective. And later Mercedes is so defiantly prosperous that driving with the roof open is very. It conveys with all its appearance: I’m worth six million. What, besides hatred, would my happy face evoke from the city’s hurriedly going about their business??
The smirk comes by itself from the 1st glance through a windshield – sculptural ribs on a long hood look as if they were pressed through from inside by the same three hundred and eighty eight “horses. After start of the engine, the smiley only gets wider: “Five Hundred” with a seven steps “automatic machine” is very frisky car. Not sports (there is SL sixty three AMG with “semi-robot” for it), but exactly sharp. Even with switched off traction control it does not shoot out from the start, and after turning rollers, inevitably, but softly pushes off the ground. Acceleration is like a pole vault: the second wave of acceleration picks up when the “eight” is spun up to three thousand rpm. One wants to sing further, echoing the muffled pulsation of the exhaust. It’s rhythmic and sonorous and academic, like heavy metal . “I’m a highway star!” And John Lord’s rendition.
The Mercedes really does belong on the highway. On the Autobahn near Munich, to be exact. And in Moscow, the Mercedes flight is a high-speed boat glide. Completely weighted, filled with the most transparent jet action, the rudder stays in motion unchanged by bouncing on the waves. It practically does not spoil a directional stability, and causes the driver the unique feeling of complicity to an event, for which journalists name this or that automobile among themselves as live.
Quality of plastics in the interior does not correspond to the level of leather dressing. Beautiful illumination of dial rings clogs up the information. Complicated on-board menu and “music” options: a lot of pushing, a lot of thinking.
It’s noisy – especially from the wide rear tires. But you can’t hear any of the usual coupe-cabriolet squeaks, and the panels don’t stagger. One feels that the body is rather rigid, though there are such vibrations of unsprung masses on a wheel, from which any Peugeot 37 CC would burst at the seams. But the Mercedes tolerates and even grinds the disturbances of the suspension into some semblance of smooth running. But you can’t call it comfortable.
Just as it is impossible to estimate this interior at 100.5 thousand. It’s unusually plasticky, one hundred percent encased in leather, and exudes the sweet smell of an expensive car. But either it’s obsolete, or the plastic details spoil the picture, but inside the SL it feels more modest than you’d expect from a car with such a price tag. The salons of the cheaper and closer in value CL coupe are perceived much richer.
Mercedes asks for a wide ride, as free as an impressionist’s brushstroke. Expecting to skid under a throttle dump is worthless – all issues are resolved by brute force. You get to the turn, turn the steering wheel, dump the gas pedal in advance and nobody else is on the road! It is painfully difficult to drive with a filigree line on “500th”: each turn is burdened with understeerability, and on indistinctness the big back “boots” pull aside. One feels that the stern is very light. Nevertheless, in the trunk there is the biggest of 2 accumulators, a spare wheel cart, our bags with photo equipment, and a useless windscreen. But if one and a half centner of Deripaska (the roof module is produced by Magna company) were loaded in the trunk, maybe the weight distribution would be better.
Nevertheless, it is enough to look in the table of technical features to understand how much the active suspension ABC (Active Body Control) gives to the roadster. Curb weight of this “Five Hundred” is 1910 kg! It is even shameful to complain of understeerability after what. Personally SL does not feel so heavy. Because the reactions of the chassis are as clear and predictable as possible, and the connection to the steering wheel is the strongest. It’s a shame it’s lacking on the pedals. The gas pedal is dampened, which turns a brisk ride into a jerky ride. The electrohydraulic brakes throw up surprises: there was a moment when in a traffic jam the electronics simply slept through the braking moment – I felt a twinge.
“The automatic – that’s who’s being emphatically unsportsmanlike: manual mode is all about visibility. The gearbox itself runs upwards at the rpm limit and downwards at the . Even in a manual mode it refuses from time to time to shift down if the stock is less than half a scale on the tachometer. But let “automat” be “automat” and it will repay for you with smoothness and timeliness of shifts. Moreover, unlike the new one, change of Comfort-Standart-Manual modes with the button on the central tunnel here in no way influences on suspension options. Here is the chassis of the previous generation, of the year 2100 standard – with passive shock absorbers.
The 5,5-liter V8 engine does not immediately respond to the gas pedal, but a moment later draws in the air with full throttle – and carries. The engine is started either with the key or the button on the end of the lever. The automatic’s manual mode is pampering.
What is the sense, you may ask, to take a seven-year old automobile for a test – let it be after the second restyling?? Impartially – none! But the Mercedes-Benz SL is a case where I am willing to abuse my position by clinging to the most insignificant newsworthy occasion. To put up with a slammed cap, with defiant color, incomprehensible design, feral price tag and expenses for a freelance photographer. Just to touch one of the most spirited cars in the world one more time. Seven years ago the SL was the crowning glory of creation, now it’s just a classic.
P.S.: The unfortunate spring was re-sprung – and gave us the SL in a few days. Unfortunately, I did not have the ability to finish the test drive. But Alexander Kataev appreciated the peculiarities of roadster behavior without a roof.
Out in the open (Alexander Kataev)
The windproofing of the interior is not ideal. Even at sixty kilometers. Sneakily, behind your backs. The cold seems to hold you under your elbows, especially the cold on your right forearm. And you no longer just want an “air scarf” (an Airscarf feature for the SL roadster), but an air fleece – the deflectors in the side rollers of the backrests. Great that the draft doesn’t increase with speed.
The roof control lever is cheap plastic. Under it are the servo buttons of the unfortunate arc: when the spring is on, the arc is raised and lowered at will of the driver. During the test it rained 6 times. Taking into account that it takes 16 seconds for the hydraulics to fold the roof, I spent more than 3 minutes of my life on opening-closing. Not counting the time it takes to stop, the servo only works when the speed drops to zero.
The wind creates a steady sound in the passenger pod. Particularly noticeable air whistling to the left of the steering wheel, near the light control box. And if to take away even one of commands, real “siphoning” begins. By the way, having approached in a traffic jam with a car with a folding top of BMW of the third series, I once again paid attention, how very the side windows there go behind the screen. The passengers in the BMW are as if they were in a glass box. And I have the rear “triangles” just a little bit reaching into the screen. I’m freezing.
Except for struggle against inclinations, ABC hydraulics allows lifting a body on 30 mm so that SL could overcome without obstacles, for example, a low curb. The “sandwich” of the folded roof gently lifts up to reveal the luggage concealed by a special curtain.
But the roof is worth folding over the 1st sound of the engine! After a piercing roar in the fresh air, the voice of the “eight” in a closed cabin seems like a muffled grunt. Also SL is the rarest car, in which I orient myself better by the interior mirror, than by the side mirrors. On the contrary, the frontal marker of this car is absolutely insensible. By the way, this Mercedes is also one of the most traumatic. To people around it. As soon as it appears in the street, everybody twists their necks.