Used 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Review
Although still a symbol of prestige and high performance, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren loses some of its former luster due to aging styling and newer, faster competitors that are considerably less expensive.
Those who follow Formula 1 racing no doubt know of the long-standing partnership between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren. For a time that collaboration extended beyond racecars to the road -- the SLR supercar was created as an homage to racing accomplishments of a past era when drivers like Juan Manuel Fangio and Sir Stirling Moss barreled down unfenced tracks in open-wheel speed machines while wearing little more than T-shirts and leather caps. When the SLR debuted (in coupe form four years ago, followed by a roadster last year), it was anything but retro; it boasted an ostentatious design and cutting-edge technology.
But all good things must come to an end. Although the SLR hangs on for 2009, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren dissolved their road-car partnership in 2008. In addition to the standard roadster, the SLR's swan song is a limited-edition 722 S roadster, which features a full carbon-fiber body and an even more powerful version of the supercharged 5.5-liter V8. The 722 name comes from the car driven by Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson in the Mille Miglia race in 1955 (they were piloting a 300 SLR). Only 150 of these retuned, special-edition drop tops will be made.
No matter which version you look at, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren doesn't exactly make a whole lot of financial sense. At half a million dollars, you could park a Ferrari 599 and a Ferrari F430 in your garage for the same amount of dough. Those who want a sleek, modern supercar with stunning good looks and plenty of power to burn could also consider the 2009 Lamborghini Murciélago LP640, which is just as extreme and checks in at $100,000 less. But there's no denying that the SLR still has plenty of cachet, especially in parts of the country where how much you spend on a car is just as important as how it drives.
trim levels & features
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is offered solely as a two-seat roadster in a single trim level. Standard features include 19-inch wheels, bi-xenon HID headlights, a heated glass rear window, heated exterior mirrors, a semiautomatic fabric soft top, six-way power carbon fiber sport seats, leather and Alcantara upholstery, aluminum trim, Bluetooth phone connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control and a seven-speaker Bose surround-sound system with a trunk-mounted six-CD changer. The SLR's list of limited options includes various interior and soft-top color schemes, as well as 18-inch wheels.
performance & mpg
A supercharged 5.4-liter V8 (which is mounted behind the front wheels for optimal weight distribution) powers the rear-wheel-drive 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren with a visceral 617 hp and 575 pound-feet of torque. The SLR 722 produces 650 hp. A widely spaced five-speed automatic transmission translates the engine's brute force into motion. Steering-wheel-mounted buttons enable the driver to shift manually. A brief 3.8 seconds is all it takes for this supercar to rocket from zero to 60 mph, and the top speed for the SLR is an F1-worthy 206 mph. Powerful carbon ceramic brakes and a rear air brake help to bring this beast from 62 mph to a halt in a respectable 114 feet. EPA estimates -- if there's a potential buyer who cares -- come in at a predictably low 12 mpg city/16 mpg highway and 13 mpg combined.
Although no crash tests have been performed on the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, its construction promises a very high level of occupant protection. Carbon fiber, which is extremely light yet strong, makes up a large portion of the car's structure. Steel-reinforced A-pillars and two fixed rollover bars protect the driver and passenger in the event of a rollover. Other standard safety features include airbags, knee-protecting airbags, Mercedes' TeleAid telematics system, stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with brake assist.
When you're the proud owner of a rare machine that boasts 617 hp and F1-inspired aerodynamics and suspension, there's pretty much only one way to enjoy driving it: fast. The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren roadster excels on challenging roads and accelerates and brakes with the greatest of ease. But there are a few drawbacks. Some might find that the steering lacks feel, and many enthusiasts bemoan the fact that the car is not available with a manual transmission. Road noise is always persistent, but that's to be somewhat expected for a car with this kind of performance. The carbon ceramic brakes are capable of bringing the SLR to a halt, but they're almost too good -- their instant bite makes it difficult to ease into braking.
Half-scissor, half-gullwing doors require some creative maneuvering for the driver and passenger to climb in gracefully. That can be remedied with practice, though preferably not in a public place, since all will be staring. The interior design is definitively German and accented with leather, carbon fiber and aluminum. The engine start button hides beneath a flip-up cover on the gearlever.
The SLR's race-bred carbon fiber seats offer ample support but lack the adjustability most drivers expect. Mercedes custom tailors seat upholstery to the proportions of every vehicle's owner, although those taller than 6 feet will still be out of luck when it comes to legroom. Don't plan on taking this supercar on a long road trip, either, as the trunk offers a mere 7.2 cubic feet of space -- unless, of course, you're the type to just FedEx your luggage ahead of time.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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