Mercedes-Benz Dream Cars
“Mercedes-Benz has always made automotive dreams come true, and these models in particular are what makes the brand so exciting. ‘Mercedes-Benz dream cars’ is a combined concept that we are rolling out through our customer activities around our coupé, cabrio and roadster model series. The dream cars include the new E-Class coupé and cabrio models, the SLK and SL sports cars, the CL as well as the CLS and the CLS Shooting Brake, together with our SLS AMG Coupé and SLS AMG Roadster models,” says Selvin Govender, Divisional Manager: Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars.
This says a lot. Looking at the line-up, cars such as these would remain only a dream for most people were it not for such a concept. I am one of the privileged few who can now say, “I have driven the Mercedes-Benz Dream Team!” Not only that, I have driven all of the cars on the Kyalami racetrack, except for one – but more about that later.
In short, the cars are all sports cars in their own right – high-performance, luxury roadsters, coupés and cabriolets, and then there is the unique Shooting Brake. Below, I have taken the liberty to quote from Mercedes-Benz’s statistics on the various models and the sales that have been made. Approximately 133 000 of these dream cars were sold worldwide in 2012, and the aim is to increase model sales further during 2013. Worldwide, some 75 000 customers have opted for an E-Class cabrio since its market launch in 2010. In the roadster segment, the Mercedes-Benz SLK was the global segment leader in 2012, with 31 800 new models being sold.
The iconic Mercedes-Benz SL sports car continues to be as popular as ever. According to Mercedes-Benz, 10 700 units of the current model series were sold in 2012, three times as many as in the previous year. The SL’s history dates back 60 years to the 300 SL racing sports car of 1952. In 2012, the SL won an Automotive Brand Award for its outstanding design. Further, the highest accolade for vehicle body construction was also received in 2012 in the form of a EuroCarBody Award. The unique concept behind the CLS Shooting Brake last year saw Mercedes-Benz establishing an entirely new segment. In February, the CLS Shooting Brake was awarded the 2013 Design Trophy in the Estate Class Category for its exciting design. The jury also voted it the most beautiful car of all. Around 37 000 units of the CLS and CLS Shooting Brake were delivered to customers in 2012. The SLS Coupé is a super sports car that offers distinctive styling, superior handling, and Mercedes-Benz’s hallmark of practicality and safety in everyday use.
The purist design of the SLS AMG Coupé fascinates, with the stylistic highlight being the distinctive gullwing doors, which impart to the SLS AMG a charisma like no other. The Mercedes-Benz Roadster adds an open-top version of the dream car. This fascinating super sports car is a perfect synthesis of open-top driving enjoyment. One thing that is certain is that not one of the dream cars handles or reacts the same around the track. Each and every one of them has its own ‘signature’ that you have to deal with – from acceleration to braking, to steering into and through a corner. Your line of attack may look the same, but these AMG machines let you know very quickly if they are lightweight or heavyweight contenders. What an awesome experience for us! It is not easy to describe the delight when you are racing around the track or the adrenaline that pumps through you.
I did have the opportunity to drive the SLS Roadster as well, and this is one roaring monster that makes sure you will be listening to the engine and nothing else. As we had the Mercedes Dynamic Driving Team with us, I asked Clint to take me around in the SLS Gullwing, as I wanted to see what an expert does with such a potent, powerful and classic vehicle. I thought that, once you had driven or experienced some of the well-known sports cars, you could consider yourself to be an excellent driver and even racer. But nothing could be further from the truth. I was amazed when Clint took the SLS through the corners at double the speed that I had been doing – drifting it around and accelerating where I had been just on the point of releasing the brakes; and I now know what they mean by ‘going wide’ on the track. Being in this dream car and being driven around Kyalami was really the pinnacle of enjoyment for me, as it was only then that I realised what these magnificent cars are capable of, even if one cannot put these to use every day. For me, it was a wonderful dream come true, as it would be for many an enthusiast.
OUT OF OFFICE | CAR REVIEW
by Carl Wepener
* Prices as at date of publishing