2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

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12 CITY / 16 HWY
Overall Quality
Overall Performance and Design
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What Changed for 2008:
  • New convertible Roadster for 2008

  • Automatic power top opens in 10 seconds

  • Vehicle rigidity is not compromised

  • Carbon-fiber monocoque chassis

  • Acceleration and top speed nearly unchanged from previous model
Inspired by the classic Mercedes-Benz SLR of 1955, the McLaren SLR Roadster is a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and its Formula 1 partner, McLaren. The first modern SLR was introduced as a coupe in 2005, and it quickly vaulted to the top tier of the exotic sport/GT class. For the 2008 model year, the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR Roadster is added to the lineup. Mercedes says the McLaren SLR Roadster's new folding convertible soft top does not compromise structural rigidity (or aerodynamic efficiency). The car boasts 626 hp under the long composite hood.

Model Lineup
Two McLaren SLR models are on offer for 2008. The coupe carries forward unchanged while a new Roadster model joins the lineup. Unlike most vehicles that experience extensive chassis rigidity compromises in order to accomodate a convertible version, the SLR Roadster emerges from the transformation nearly unscathed, according to the automaker. The SLR Roadster's structural integrity and acceleration are nearly identical to the coupe, and the Roadster even retains the coupe's gullwing-opening doors.

Standard equipment on the McLaren SLR includes dual-zone climate control; Grand Nappa leather upholstery; bi-Xenon headlamps; and carbon fiber bucket seats covered in leather. The standard stereo is a Bose Cabin Surround multi-channel sound system. The 7-speaker system recreates a 360-degree sound field within the cabin, and offers Bose AudioPilot for automatic volume control based on ambient noise. Nineteen-inch light alloy wheels with high-performance tires are standard. The options list is limited to several customer-specific requests. These include custom seat fittings to adapt the seat contour to the anatomy of the driver (much like a tailored suit), special paint choices for the brake calipers, and special interior upholstery.

The 5.5-liter, hand-built, supercharged V-8 engine resides under the long front hood of the 2008 McLaren SLR in a front-mid engine configuration-unlike most exotics that find their engines behind the driver. Twin intercoolers cool the pressurized intake, helping the engine to crank out 617 hp and 575 lb.-ft. of torque. According to Mercedes, 0-60 mph comes up in 3.8 seconds for the coupe (the Roadster is one tenth of a second slower). In tests conducted by the automaker, the SLR coupe does not run out of steam until it hits more than 207 mph (the Roadster is good for 206 mph). EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2007 SLR coupe were 11 mpg city/16 mpg highway. Mercedes offers a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, with free roadside assistance for the life of the vehicle.

With a body shell and chassis made entirely of high-strength carbon fiber (the same material used in racecars and aircraft), the SLR is one of the safest vehicles on the road, Mercedes claims. Driver and passenger are protected by six air bags (front, side, and knee), seat belt pre-tensioners, and belt-force limiters. Electronic safety aids include anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), and brake assist. The SLR has not been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Like an airplane, the SLR is fitted with an air brake to provide additional stability at high speed, and stopping power when decelerating. At low speeds, it remains flush with the rear decklid of the vehicle. At highway speeds, it will automatically raise 10 degrees (or more, via a driver-selectable switch in the cockpit) to add downforce for stability. Under heavy braking, it will quickly raise 65 degrees to add drag, helping to slow the vehicle. The ceramic disc brakes are managed by Sensotronic Brake Control, an electrohydraulic braking system that precisely controls how much stopping force is exerted to each wheel for better vehicle control, according to Mercedes. The system includes automatic brake drying and predictive braking-both designed to shorten emergency stopping distances.

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