Cologne, Germany. One Mercedes SLS Roadster, two men, one mission and the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris. In between, about 500km of german Autobahn. Tim Stevens, Editor in Chief of Engadget, and I are on a mission. A mission we were soon to be forced to abort. Quite suddenly. One day we have beautiful weather a close to 600 horsepower car and lots of fun, the other day heavy, non-stop rain and technical difficulties. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do.
So we drove by the Nürburgring Nordschleife, just to lighten the mood a little and as Tim had never been there we had no choice, right? Right! Rain, rain, rain. Still, driving the SLS Roadster is just so much fun, in rain or not. That fantastic noise that comes out of this beast is just a pure bliss. I will write about the SLS Roadster in detail in a few days though. So we shot a few scenes, went up for a quick photo to the Nürburg (the castle) and off we were. Poor Tim, comes to Germany to drive a beast of a car to Paris and it wont stop raining… I really felt bad.
We got to Paris though… one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Forget the City of love bull*#&%, that for me would be Venice, but thats another story. Paris is just a fantastically beautiful city. The people, the buildings, the food. And funny how the last times I was here were mostly for work and not pleasure. Next time! Maybe.
So there was no other option then to adjust the plan a little and enjoy the show. Don’t get me wrong, the “there was no other option”-part is a very pleasant one, as always with Mercedes-Benz, but it is annoying when plans made fall apart.
There were a bunch of things I was excited about and interested in. For one to see what Mercedes-Benz was going to show, as the A-Class and the CLS Shooting Brake were a given.
Also as Land Rover owner and fan the new Range Rover was way up on my list. Followed by a little guy called the Peugeot 208 R5 rally car that was teased prior to the Show.
I didn’t really realise until the Mercedes-Benz Press Conference started that time was quite limited, at least if I wanted to make it back to the Hotel and shower before the evening activities. Yes, I had the SLS Roadster and yes, I love driving in Paris, but it can get tricky in Paris. And as they like to say in Germany: “I am at work and not on the run.” If that makes any sense.
So Mercedes-Benz did open up with Annette Winkler presenting Smarts new concept car the Smart ForStars. A beautiful and very futuristic little car with a built in movie projector in the hood, so you can transform any wall to a car-cinema.
Followed by Prof. Thomas Weber showing two B-Class Models, the B-Class Electric Drive (as the Smart Electric Drive is named also) and the B-Class Natural Gas Drive. The first one I care a lot more about, but always good to see they don’t stop to evolve and experiment.
Then it was time for Dr. Zetsche, entering in a A250 A-Class. Announcing the A45 AMG A-Class for “early” 2013. A car I am very very much looking forward to. As we know AMG a lot of horsepower, all-wheel drive and with that we can presume some wonderful handling. I love they went the route of all-wheel drive with that one.
As expected the CLS Shooting Brake was next and you certainly know about it from my previous post and that I really liked that car. If not, hop over for some fantastic impressions of it in Florence and Tuscany.
The Highlight of the press conference followed immediatly. The 2012 AMG SLS Coupe Electric Drive. A fully electric supercar with 4 engines (one at each wheel), 552kw of power and 1000nm of torque. 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds. I know… you can read that on the photo… but I needed to write that down for my own enjoyment. I hear it is a driving experience beyond anything one has driven before and with those genes I can very well imagine that.
The funky blue-chrome color the Electric Drive Mercs come in is “unfortunately” a foil and not paint. That would have been fantastic, but you are able to get that and there is also a special SLS ED color coming, called “blue magno”. That certainly sounds very interesting, guess time will tell if it really is. We have black chrome for wheels and so on, right?! so why not blue chrome too?!
So just the thought of this beast, accelerating like a maniac, completely silent, with enormous grip gives me goose bumps. Maybe I’ll have the chance to give it a spin at some point.
Its fascinating to see, how small our world actually is… I met at least 3 people I hadn’t thought I would meet at the Autoshow just by accident. One of them being Evan Orensten of Cool Hunting, which is always pleasure.Just walked up to us and said hi. Surprises like that, make trips like these just so much better. Also these two very suspicious looking fellas…
That and saying hi to everyone else I knew took obviously some time and with my, lately leaking memory, completely made me forget to drop by Peugeots booth for the 208 R5. Not sure what to say about that myself. And sometimes you get distracted by the wonderful back of italian sports cars…
I went straight to the Jaguar / Land Rover booth to check the new Range Rover out. To my… well I can’t say surprise as I actually knew it would be there, but also slipped my mind until I saw it standing there. The brand new Jaguar F-Type. Teased for a very long time and finally here to be enjoyed.
As with any other car sportscar, the single most important thing for me is performance and I don’t mean on paper alone, but on the road or even better the track, so besides its stunning looks I will not further comment on it, until I got to move it around a little.
For the Range Rover though… I can only say I am in love. Jip I am a sucker for Landys and RRs and that might never change, especially not with evolutions like these. Fantastic styling inside and out. Suddenly I got a bit worried there when I saw ONE big trunklid opening. As one of the best features With the Range Rover and the Land Rover Discovery is the split trunklid, but I was shortly after relived to see that behind the big lid opening to the top a second smaller lid was present that opened to the bottom. On first sight not as perfect, but maybe I can find out at some point what brought them to that decision and how it actually performs compared to the previous solution.
Well not much more I can talk about as we had to leave kinda early on the second day. Still, what a fun trip. Driving the magnificent SLS Roadster, and especially me as a not convertible fan drove with an open roof most of the time. Besides the problems we had with a certain green android it was a fantastic experience and positive surprise. After driving the SL65 I wasn’t very fond of its driving dynamics and of course the SLS is a different beast, but still, you get thinking.
And driving a front engine, rear wheel drive car that despite its force and fierceness is very much controllable and drivable no matter the situation is a great thing to experience. Would be nice to drive it on the Nordschleife actually, but what sportscar isn’t :-).
After this very intense relationship with the SLS Roadster I have a project to propose to Mercedes-Benz, as this car did not only put a smile onto my face every single time I got into it and started that beautifully sounding monster of an engine, it also spread its love where ever it got to. Sure it was red, a two seater and convertible, but this car obviously turned a lot of heads. A lot more though then I would have thought.
The Ferrari 458 Italia did that for sure too, with its very exotic and beautiful styling and Ferrari specific sound and all. The SLS Roadster though, as it seemed to me so far, caught 2 more demographics though. The older, more conservative men and the younger more conservative women. Drive with a Ferrari anywhere and you will turn heads and get thumbs up and nods and all that, but there will always be the haters and people that think a car like that is kind of obscene or something. The SLS Roadster is understatement is a very overstated market. Not a judgement on any of the cars, at least not from me, but a very interesting fact to experience.
So my proposal is to setup SLS Ambassadors of joy and happiness, that drive around to bring positive thoughts and feelings to car lovers all over the globe. By that everyone gets an even better and more positive link with Mercedes-Benz. I obviously would give my time and energy to this project and start a pilot program to test and adjust all the details for further expansion.
Another highlight for me was the dinner on the first evening at La Maison Blanche with a stunning view over the rooftops of Paris. From rain to sunshine with a beautiful double rainbow followed by a great meal and good talks with the other lifestyle bloggers and writers. A lovely crowd that Mercedes-Benz had gathered and big thanks to all of the Mercedes-Benz team for their work, hospitality and effort to get things working when they weren’t with our little car and time was limited.
What a trip and what a time… First Skywalker Ranch (post is coming up very soon), then Florence and the CLS, then Paris and the SLS. Just mind-blowingly good.
I hope you are all well, wishing you a great week!