2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
July 24, 2013
A few nights ago I took our 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG out for a drive. I didn't have to go anywhere necessarily. My thinking was pretty much this: The SLS isn't going to be in our long-term fleet forever, and how many more times in my life will I get to drive an SLS? Never, maybe. So off I went.
The drive was eventful, though not for reasons that I would have anticipated.
This particular night in Los Angeles was cloudy, and actually a bit of rain was coming down occasionally. I was driving along Sunset Boulevard then Pacific Coast Highway, two crowded roads that can still be fun. I suppose I'm a seasoned enough driver to know that drizzle and high horsepower just don't mix.
Apparently, an Audi S8 driver wasn't as seasoned.
At one point I was actually stuck in a rather long queue due to construction. A bunch of other cars and I were all lined up to access the 10 freeway. I finally made it to the front and was about to start accelerating, which is when the S8 burbled past me on the right. It was dark, and the S8 was black, but it seemed like a first-generation car with, at the minimum, an aftermarket exhaust. He got about three car lengths ahead of me, flashed his hazards a couple times, and gunned it. Would you care to guess what happened next?
Yep, a Russian car-cam moment.
Despite having all-wheel-drive traction, the S8 driver lost control. He fishtailed to the right, at which point I think he either counter-steered or backed off the gas. But either way, the S8 then got hopelessly out of control, fishtailed even harder the other way to the left?and sideswiped straight into a cement construction barrier on the right side of the road. The S8 then bounced from this barrier to the other side of the road, which was also lined with construction barriers. He pinballed off from the left side, went across the road again, and finally smacked up on the right side where I thought he might even flip.
Fortunately, he didn't. Nor did he hit any other cars.
I was already firmly on the SLS's brakes at that point. I pulled over to make sure the driver was all right. By the time I did that, he was already out of his car yelling expletives, seemingly fine other than being supremely pissed that he just stupidly bashed up his S8.
I guess the whole "With great power comes great responsibility" quote comes into play. But it does truly speak to treating high-horsepower cars with respect. With modern stability control and such, most drivers are protected from their own stupidity. But turn it off and, well, this is what happens.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor