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CAR - Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722 Edition test drive

marcos_eirik

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CAR Magazine said:
Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722 Edition

MercSLR722_1_560px.jpg


Are you telling me this beast has 722bhp under the bonnet?

Not quite. The 722 ? or the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722 Edition to quote its full name ? is a limited run of tweaked SLRs, named after the Mercedes 300 SLR that British racing legend Stirling Moss and his co-driver Dennis Jenkinson drove to victory in the 1955 Mille Miglia race from Brescia to Rome and back.

The number actually refers to the time - 07:22am - that they started the grueling 1000-mile race, and they completed it at a record-breaking average speed of 100mph.

MercSLR722_2_560px.jpg


Hmm. This has the fishy whiff of marketing about it.

You could well be right. SLR sales have never lived up to Mercedes? expectations, and special edition models with more power, honed dynamics and greater driver engagement are always a sharp hook with which to go out and snag some more buyers. If it works for Porsche?

The left-hand-drive 722 series will be limited to 150 models worldwide, and will cost around ?350,000 depending on the Sterling-Euro exchange rate. Mercedes opened up its order books to prospective buyers when the 722 was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show last September. All UK-bound 722s have already been snapped up.

MercSLR722_3_560px.jpg


So what?s new?

Well, for an extra ?32,500 over the standard SLR you get more power and less weight. Which is a good place to start. Recalibrating the hand-built 5.5-litre supercharged V8 engine?s electronic black box has pushed output to 650bhp at 6500rpm and 605lb ft at 4000rpm ? that?s 24bhp and 30lb ft more than a standard SLR.

The five-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission and its gearing remain unchanged, but you do get even more carbonfibre, with a new front splitter and rear diffuser, resulting in a 44kg drop in weight to a still super-size-me 1724kg.

MercSLR722_4_560px.jpg


That?s it?

Not quite. The steering has been tweaked, the suspension uprated, the ride height dropped, each corner fitted with lightweight alloy wheels to reduce unsprung weight, ceramic brakes are fitted, and the aerodynamics have been upgraded.

Inside you get red stitching on the Alcantara-wrapped bucket seats and suede?covered steering wheel, red-ringed instruments and redesigned aluminium shift paddles. Oh, and a tacky 722 plaque on the centre console that would shame a Christmas cracker goody. In total, over 300 components have been enhanced or replaced.

MercSLR722_5_560px.jpg


I?m guessing it?s pretty brisk.

It?s expletive-inducingly quick. Imagine strapping a jet engine on full afterburner to your back and you?ll get the idea. The 722 claws its way up to 100mph with the kind of vicious, neck-straining acceleration that makes a BMW M5 or Porsche 911 feel like a milk float with a flat battery.

There?s no pause or slowing up of that pulverising acceleration either ? that hammering V8 engine just keeps ripping through to its 7000rpm redline, dropping into a higher gear and winding the speedometer needle closer to its maximum velocity.

MercSLR722_6_560px.jpg


But is it happy at these speeds?

It feels made for them ? stable, solid and planted. That carbonfibre front lip almost doubles front downforce at speed, the rear diffuser has been revised to suck the tail down on to the tarmac, and the airbrake now lifts to a more acute angle to boost rear-end stability under extreme braking.

All of which means winding the 722 up to its 210mph top speed is simply a matter of finding a long straight road and holding the comically large steering wheel straight. A bit easier than the terrifying speeds managed by Moss and Jenks in 1955 (see pic above).

MercSLR722_7_560px.jpg


So it?s fast, but what about the brakes?

Brilliant and awful in the same breath. The 722 is fitted with vast 390mm carbonfibre-reinforced ceramic brake discs complete with red calipers, supplied by Brembo. While the Sensotronic brake-by-wire setup has absolutely no problem in hauling the 722 back down from go-directly-to-jail speeds with the lightest brush of the floor-mounted pedal, they are frustratingly difficult to modulate; the pedal feels wooden and smooth deceleration is almost an impossibility.

MercSLR722_8_560px.jpg


So it?s good in a straight line. What about corners?

Here?s where the 722 falls apart. It?s the steering that?s to blame. Despite being razor-sharp and accurate, it never feels anything but dead. You?re given very little idea of what the front wheels are doing ? not so cool in a car that can whip up to three times the national limit in a few minutes.

Throw in a chassis that feels stiff but oddly inert and you?re left driving a very one-dimensional car. Which is a crying shame given the killer performance of its engine and brakes.

MercSLR722_9_560px.jpg


Verdict:

The 722 perfectly illustrates the point that there?s more to a supercar than earth-shattering speed. You need tactility and communication, emotion and charisma ? qualities the 722 is sadly bereft of.

A Ferrari 599 may not match the SLR?s sledgehammer performance, but its far higher level of driver engagement is far more appealing than a few saved tenths of a second over a sweaty-palmed Alpine pass. Ditto a Porsche 911 Turbo. Both cheaper to buy and better to drive - salt in the 722?s wounds that?s really going to sting.

  • Need to Know: Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722 Edition
  • How much? ?350,000
  • On sale in the UK: Now
  • Engine: 5439cc, 20v, supercharged V8, 650bhp @ 6500rpm, 590lb ft @ 4000rpm
  • Transmission: Five-speed paddle-shift, rear wheel drive
  • Performance: 0-60mph 3.6.seconds, 210mph, 14.5mpg
  • How heavy/made of? 1724kg/carbonfibre, aluminium
  • How big (length/ width/ height in mm)?4656/1908/1251
  • Other models in the range: SLR
  • Or try a... Ferrari 599 GTB, Porsche 911 Turbo, Koenigsegg CCX
 
why would you spend that kind of money on an SLR 722? Does the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, Ferrari 599 GTB, or Koenigsegg CCX not tickle your fancy for some reason?
 
Another UK mag reviewed the 722 - AutoCar - and they concluded similar opinions unfortunately. What a shame it doesn't go round corners like it goes in a straight line (amongst other things..).

And as bartboy mentioned...there is some serious competition its up against. I don't think I could reject a LP640 or 599 for the McLaren.
 
why would you spend that kind of money on an SLR 722? Does the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, Ferrari 599 GTB, or Koenigsegg CCX not tickle your fancy for some reason?

Apart from the Koenigsegg, there is one thing for the SLR, and that is exclusivity. Ferrari and Lambo are getting pretty commonplace on the country club parking lot. Some people who fork out that amount of money want something that has an air of exclusivity. And the SLR is more of a grand tourer, where the other 3 cars are more supercars, although the Ferrari also has some grand tourer potential. In those i would want to try and do Eindhoven-Saint Tropez in under 6 hours, which i cannot say for the Lambo and the Koenigsegg, they're too involving and too much of a supercar (read: tiring) to be comfortable over such a distance.
 
offtopic, but aduna, i was so going to use that line in ur sig for mine :(
 
And the SLR is more of a grand tourer, where the other 3 cars are more supercars, although the Ferrari also has some grand tourer potential. In those i would want to try and do Eindhoven-Saint Tropez in under 6 hours, which i cannot say for the Lambo and the Koenigsegg, they're too involving and too much of a supercar (read: tiring) to be comfortable over such a distance.

I once got into a Lamborghini Murcielago and bumped my head pretty hard on the roof because a.) the car is so low, and b.) the side sills are so wide, it's quite difficult to get into. And when you finally do make it into the car, you feel like you're sitting on the road. Definitely not an everyday car.

The 599 may be an excellent grand tourer, but it's still a hardcore Ferrari. In the realm of $300k supercars that coddle you and are easy to drive with regular automatic transmissions, the SLR really stands alone. Maybe that's why Donald Trump and Paris Hilton both drive one.
 
sez someone with a Brabus SLR as an avatar :lol:







sorry please dont ban me :)
Well I wouldn't because the LP and 599 are just better ;)

And besides - thats a Brabus in my avatar. I chose it because its menacing and I'm meant to be menacing because I'm a mod :p
 
SLR??? pfft, I will take an SL55AMG thanks and pocket $600,000.

1 SLR or......

SL55, Porsche GT3, Porsche Cayenne Turbo AND Audi RS4???

I know which garage I would prefer.
 
SLR??? pfft, I will take an SL55AMG thanks and pocket $600,000.

1 SLR or......

SL55, Porsche GT3, Porsche Cayenne Turbo AND Audi RS4???

I know which garage I would prefer.
When you put it like that...me too :thumbsup: Although I'd replace the Cayenne with an ML 63 heheh
 
^Just got overtaken by a Merc Ml63 AMg the other day. Damn that things does sound good.
Couldn't quite keep up with him.. =)
 
Do they even make RHD versions of normal SLR's?

Personally, I think they should have had it put out 722hp as well, but ah well, I'm sure it'll still sound nice :)
 
SLR??? pfft, I will take an SL55AMG thanks and pocket $600,000.

1 SLR or......

SL55, Porsche GT3, Porsche Cayenne Turbo AND Audi RS4???

I know which garage I would prefer.

Good point ;) But I'd leave the Cayenne out and get a Z06....and still have some change for beer and chips :D
 
Need the Cayenne to tow the GT3 to the race track.
 
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