Full 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Review
What's New for 2006
There are no significant changes for the 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLR.
A true exotic in every sense of the word, the SLR is an ultrahigh-performance coupe that goes well beyond anything Mercedes has ever offered for public consumption. It draws its name from Mercedes' famed '50s racing coupe that won nearly every race that mattered at the time, so no expense was spared in putting together a modern-day production car of equal stature. Built in collaboration with McLaren, Mercedes' partner in Formula One racing (and the creator of the infamous McLaren F1 supercar), the SLR makes extensive use of carbon fiber in its structure to keep weight down while maintaining the rigidity necessary to handle the car's power. Lightweight aluminum has also been used for the car's double-wishbone suspension. At almost 3,800 pounds, however, there's no mistaking the SLR for a lithe racer like the Ferrari F430. Rather, the SLR is meant to be more of a traditional GT that just so happens to have outrageous performance potential.
The SLR's front midengine design provides optimum weight distribution but makes the car's long hood a bit out of proportion to the rest of the car. Underneath that hood is an AMG-developed, 5.4-liter, aluminum V8 that has many race-oriented modifications, including a dry-sump lubrication system. A screw-type supercharger is nestled between the V8's cylinder banks and forces air through twin water-based intercoolers. The supercharger is inactive during light-load situations to help reduce fuel consumption. Reducing the SLR from speed is an advanced braking system. Mercedes has fitted the car with ceramic brake rotors, eight-piston front calipers and four-piston rear calipers. In addition, the system is supplemented by an air brake that automatically deploys from the rear deck lid under hard braking conditions.
In the SLR's price range, there are two general types of cars: grand touring vehicles such as the Aston Martin Vanquish and Ferrari 612 Scaglietti or pure performance machines like the Lamborghini Murcielago. With the SLR, Mercedes has attempted to cover both. It offers better performance than the Vanquish or 612 Scaglietti and more amenities and features than the Lambo. But the SLR doesn't offer a true manual transmission like the Lamborghini, and the level of wind and road noise within the cabin, even at moderate speeds, won't threaten the serenity of Aston Martin's Vanquish. What this means to prospective buyers is that they can now have yet another flavor of exotic transportation. The 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is easier to live with than a pure super sports car, more capable than a grand tourer and endowed with a more advanced design and construction than either.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Mercedes-Benz SLR is a two-passenger, exotic performance coupe. Of course, this being a Mercedes, there's a high emphasis on luxury, and all of the car's features come standard. On the outside the SLR is equipped with features like bi-HID headlights and 19-inch wheels with high-performance tires (255/35ZR19 in front and 295/30ZR19 in back). Inside, there's exclusive Grand Nappa or Silver Arrow leather upholstery, real aluminum trim, a Bose surround-sound system with a six-CD changer, automatic dual-zone climate control and adaptive cruise control. The SLR's seats are unusual in that they don't provide much adjustment. Instead, Mercedes offers special upholstery modules to specifically tailor seat comfort for each individual owner.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-drive Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren comes equipped with a 5.4-liter supercharged V8. It's capable of 617 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 575 lb-ft of torque at a low 3,250 rpm. Only one transmission is offered: a five-speed automatic with adaptive shifting AMG SpeedShift programming. The driver can manually select transmission gearing via steering wheel-mounted buttons. According to Mercedes, the SLR can achieve 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and top out at 208 mph.
Though no governmental crash tests have been performed, the SLR McLaren should protect occupants to an extremely high degree. Its body structure is made out of lightweight and extremely strong carbon fiber, which is the same material used for Formula One racecars. Standard safety features include Tele Aid, stability control, side and side curtain airbags, knee-protecting airbags and carbon-ceramic brakes with ABS, Mercedes' Sensotronic feature and BrakeAssist.
Interior Design and Special Features
Swing-wing doors that open up and out provide a dramatic entrance to the car similar to the Mercedes' famous gullwing SLs. Settling into the cockpit reveals a cabin with a straightforward layout that's usable at a glance. Carbon fiber, aluminum and exclusive hides of leather are used throughout and everything is of very high quality. Some people might find the SLR's interior design a bit too derivative of the regular SL-Class, however. The SLR's trunk offers up almost 10 cubic feet of cargo capacity, which is significantly better than the capacity of most other exotic sports cars.
The SLR delivers the type of excitement one would expect of a 21st-century sports car. The car's sophisticated suspension, long wheelbase, low center of gravity and wide track provide stability and predictability under extreme driving conditions. At high speeds in long, sweeping corners and through rapid transitions, the SLR feels as buttoned down as any other exotic. Acceleration is explosive and strangely drama-free -- just stand on the throttle and go. Road noise and braking response are probably the car's weakest links. Every road impact can be heard in the cabin and the Sensotronic brakes are difficult to modulate during normal driving situations.