Merceces SLR McLaren 722

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

It’s got pedigree, enormous power and a truly exotic price tag, so it should provide a brilliant drive. Not so, says Frankel. It’s flawed in concept and could have been so much better first book I bought with my own money was something called ‘My Greatest Race’, a collection of 20 first person stories by the greats of racing’s past and present. Published by the Jim Clark Foundation in 1974, I remember trembling with excitement as only an eight-yearold can as he hands over three pounds and 50 new pence of hard earned pocket money.

I must have loved that book because not only has it survived 33 years, it remains in remarkably good condition, even though I came to know it so well I could quote vast tracts on Innes Ireland winning at Solitude and Gonzalez at Silverstone to anyone kind enough to listen. But if I let it fall open today, it is invariably at page 125 that the leaves part — where Stirling Moss starts his tale of the 1955 Mille Miglia.

I was so fascinated by this event that, when road testing for Autocar in the early 1990s, I borrowed a Porsche that happened to be in for evaluation, drove it to Brescia, talked my way into a Mille Miglia media pass and chased Stirling, now navigated by fellow contributor Simon Taylor, right around the route. Of course I couldn’t keep up, but in those brief moments when I was behind that man in that silver 300SLR with those three little numbers on the side, watching its progress and listening to its desmodromic valve gear hurl flame and thunder out of its stubby exhausts — well, short of actually driving the thing, I could not see how life could get better.

And then, a couple of weeks back, I did get to drive an SLR. It too had ‘722’ stamped on its side and I’m unlikely to forget the sound bellowing out its side-exit pipes either. And just like Stirling’s, it would slam you past 170mph on even quite short straights. It should have been the drive to end them all, but I spent almost all my time pondering how much better it could, and should, have been.

I’ll explain. Mercedes has been better behaved than many other manufacturers when it comes to exploiting its rich racing heritage for cold commercial gain. There have been no special Caracciola editions, no E-class ‘Silver Arrow’. But the temptation to put Stirling’s race number (and start time) on this revised version of its SLR supercar has proven too much, even if the resulting name— Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 Edition — is one of the biggest mouthfuls in the automotive canon.

At £340,000 it is expensive enough to provide a few moments’ fun pondering what else you could have for the same money — I think a BMW M5, a Ferrari F430 and a Toyota Amazon for towing whatever racing car the remaining hundred grand would buy might make an interesting stable — but as the entire UK share of a production run of just 150 is already sold, people shopping in the rarified regions of this market are clearly not that price-sensitive.

What you’re buying into, of course, is a carbon-fibre car designed by Gordon Murray before he left McLaren and, thanks to some remapping work, now boasting 650bhp, making it more powerful even than his masterpiece, the 627bhp Fl. It’s no secret that Murray and Mercedes did not at times see eye to eye through the whole process, nor that the result was considerably heavier than he would have liked. Even though the light wheels, lightened oil tank and aluminium dampers boasted by the 722 version have dropped weight by 42kg, it still weighs 1724kg, making it much heavier than, say, a long-wheelbase supercharged Jaguar XJR limousine.

Then again, with 650bhp under your right foot, not to mention 6041b ft of torque, you can probably afford a few extra kilos. Most importantly, it doesn’t feel heavy. Despite the curious, and to me inappropriate, five-speed automatic gearbox, this more powerful, less heavy SLR explodes off the line. Forget 0-62mph in 3.6sec, or even 0-125mph in 10.2sec: how about 0-186mph in 28sec flat instead, accompanied by the most aggressive V8 blare this side of a NASCAR grid?

But all this excitement merely makes a promise the rest of the car struggles to keep. I have no evidence for this, but the 722 feels as though the vast bulk of its development has been done on the racetrack and not enough on the public road. With a lowered ride height and dampers 15 per cent stiffer in bump than before, it changes direction like no other front-engined car of this weight I’ve encountered. But instead of making the SLR feel super-agile, the needlessly aggressive steering actually makes it feel twitchy and nervous. I even spun it doing a cornering shot in the Dubai desert — my fault entirely for trying too hard to make it perform for the camera — but I genuinely cannot remember when I last lost control of a car on a public road. After that I left the safety systems on.

Other problems remain: it has even bigger carbon-ceramic brakes than the old SLR, but they’re no nicer to use or easier to modulate. The cabin remains cramped with little stowage space and the seats are uncomfortable, while the ride quality has deteriorated to just plain harsh.

I can see why Mercedes has decided to create this car, and the fact that it has all but sold out will doubtless prove to them it was the right decision. And in this context, the fact that the car itself is slightly disappointing is perhaps not that important. Whether Mercedes should have played quite so fast and loose with those three little numbers is another matter. For one I wished they had not, and if I had a choice of driving this new 722 again, or merely following the old one for another few minutes, I’d choose to follow every time.

Related articles

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore

Related products

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore