Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AMG Stage II Course

Decided to take a bit of a break, so over the last weekend spent two days at Laguna Seca doing the AMG Stage II course. I'll post some more on that later but it turned out that coincident with this, the first running of the course at Laguna Seca, AMG was launching the Mercedes SLS.

Although none of us were allowed to drive it, we were at least allowed to paw all over it and generally take a look at what Mercedes hope will follow directly in the footsteps - tyre tracks? - of the original and now iconic 300 SL Gullwing.

I can't really say it's a beautiful car. The cabin sits a bit too far back in the chassis for my tastes, leaving the whole thing looking a bit unbalanced, at least from the side. Still, it's certainly, err, purposeful, and clearly a descendant of the joint venture McLaren SLR. It's hard though to put oot of one's mind the "penile" effect created by the extended bonnet line (or more aptly, perhaps, the "hood", for those reading this in the US), especially bearing in mind the average age of likely buyers.

Price? Reputed to be around the $300k, which makes the decision not to buy one a bit easier at least. For that money you do however get a unique car, and one that embodies some pretty interesting technology. As an example, the prop shaft, a component that's called upon to transmit the 570 bhp produced by the monster engine without complaint or, frankly, flying into a thousand small and very expensive pieces, is made of carbon fibre and weighs just 4 kg, or about 8.8 pounds. An example was hanging in the small static display area they had set up for the launch and really it's an exquisite piece of work.

Mercedes should be proud of this car regardless of of the petty whinings you see above. It's only jealously at work after all, and I'd promise to utterly change my tune for the promise of a short, weekend-long test drive!

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