Life-Saving Brakes - 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster Long-Term Road Test

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster: Life-Saving Brakes

July 11, 2013

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster

In high school, I watched a video in Driver Ed class that I'm sure most of you have seen. All the clothes were at least 15 years out of date and I mostly remember making fun of bad acting with my classmates. This weekend while driving our 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, I remembered a very specific scene from the video.

A ball bounces out into the street, and naturally, a child runs after it without looking. They were probably trying to teach us a lesson that involved staying alert and obeying speed limits in neighborhoods. Apparently, it worked.

I was cruising at about 33 mph in a business zone with a posted speed limit of 35 mph and a basketball bounced out in front of the car. I slammed on the brakes, screeched to a halt, hitting the ball with the nose of the SLS, sending it a few yards down the road. The frightened child chasing after the ball looked up from his pursuit when he heard the screeching tires.

After the initial shock wore off, I moved forward, rolled down the window, and asked the 6-or-7-year-old where his parents were.

"Inside," he responded shyly. I decided to keep my instructions to the pre-youth 'PG' Rated.

"Hey buddy, go ask one of them to watch you while you're playing outside, OK? And look both ways before you cross the street," I said.

I drove off slowly, confident that this would be a very different story without the optional $12,500 AMG Carbon Ceramic Braking system. Worth every penny.

Travis Langness, Associate Editor


  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Wow close call! I'm confident that this would be a very different story if you didn't pay attention to the road, so way to go!

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Those brakes are an upgrade mostly for heat-resistance purposes in a track-day setting. I doubt very much that their cold-brake panic stop from 33 mph performance is any better than the stock brakes. In fact, most road tests show that in this scenario (initial stop, cold brakes), most metal rotors do better than carbon-ceramic. Unnecessary drama.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    I second fordson's comment... the main reason for going to the ceramic brakes are to counteract brake fade. Regular steel rotors and pads would be enough here with the right tires.

  • meng_mao meng_mao Posts:

    You think the marginal difference in braking performance, as modulated by ABS, made a bigger difference than your reaction time? I'm all for trumpeting safety tech, but maybe this is a bit of a stretch.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    "this would be a very different story without the optional $12,500 AMG Carbon Ceramic Braking system." I'm not so sure about that. Doesn't the advantage of carbon brakes come from resistance to heat-fade?

  • yellowbal yellowbal Posts:

    All modern cars can lock-up the brakes. Good tires allow you to stop earlier.

  • unionbuster unionbuster Posts:

    Teach your children not to play in the street. If you don't, my only concern is the dent your kid's going to leave in my front bumper.

  • tlangness tlangness Posts:

    @fordson While I understand your skepticism, the numbers just aren't on your side. A few months back we tested our SLS side-by-side with the New AMG GT. At 60mph, the carbon brakes (partially because they're lighter, therefore making the car lighter) stop

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    "I was cruising at about 33 mph in a business zone with a posted speed limit of 35 mph..." ha ha, that's what they all say...

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    You have a human operating the brake pedal in a test like that, when it's time to initiate the test. One foot at 44 feet per second is within the margin of error. One foot in any event is not "less than 3 feet." You're saying the carbon-ceramic brakes saved the kid's life - c'mon. You tested two different cars, two different suspensions, different tires (the GT model with metal rotors had Pilot Super Sports that the tester all through the test commented had to be up to temperature to produce best performance) with different inflation pressures. And you're attempting to draw a hard-and-fast distinction on a question of one foot difference from that mishmash. Really.

  • tlangness tlangness Posts:

    @s197gt / @fordson - I suppose I could've been more specific about this in the initial update but I had my foot covering the brake as I was cruising towards a stop sign just up the street. Perhaps the GT brakes would've done just as good a job stopping in

  • ckuers_ ckuers_ Posts:

    I'd thank the tires more than the brakes, especially at that speed. They provided the grip necessary to haul the car to a stop from that low speed. Like fordson1 said below, the carbon ceramic brakes won't reveal their benefit until you have to hammer that brake pedal repeatedly from high speeds. That being said. The thing that impresses me is how the brake rotor bolts line up perfectly with the valley between the spokes of the wheel. Fantastic design detail in my opinion.

  • zcalvert zcalvert Posts:

    how about we all just agree it has very good brakes and move on? ok?

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Travis also mentioned a weight advantage - 50 lbs would not be much of an advantage in all-up vehicle weight, but rotational weight would. Now, the rotational inertia is a tiny bit less for the entire wheel/tire/rotor/bearing assembly with the carbon-ceramic brakes, so that would help, but in this size, the SLS-specific Contis on the front weigh 26 lbs. and the Pilot Super Sports weigh 25. In the rear, the Contis weigh 32 lb. each and the Michelins weigh 29, so there goes a huge part of the rotating-weight advantage the carbon brakes confer. Add to that the fact that weight reductions further from rotational axis (the tires) have more of a salutory effect than those closer to axis (like brake rotors or wheels), and it's a moot point.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    end result--close call, no tragedy. Must have been a mixed zone of business and residential. I think the slow driving speed and reaction time were more crucial. At higher speeds I would lean towards superior braking capability and tires as the reason for success.

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