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Friday 1st June 2012

Driven: Mercedes SLS Roadster

Bank holidays are rubbish, right? Riggers attempts to prove otherwise, with help from an SLS


Weston-Super-Mare irritates by being pleasant
Weston-Super-Mare irritates by being pleasant
We all know bank holiday weekends are rubbish, right? Grubby weather, dreadful traffic and a strange yet irresistible urge to visit places that you would normally avoid like, well, a contagious bacterial disease.

Not your usual vehicle for a trip to Butlins
Not your usual vehicle for a trip to Butlins
The plan
How do you make a bad bank holiday into a great one, then? With this weekend's jubilee inspired double bank hol in mind we used the May one as a dry run for some classic four-wheeled escapism, helped more than a little by a Mercedes SLS Roadster. We decided to spend the weekend in it doing the things and going to the places you might be expect to endure during your stereotypical national holiday, just to see if it could make it bearable.

The destination was to be the north Devon and Somerset coast. Partly because that way lie bank holiday honey traps of Minehead, Weston-Super-Mare and Ilfracombe, and partly because the roads there, particularly down Exmoor way, might just be on the good side of fantastic.

The first task of any bank holiday weekend trip, of course, is the inevitable motorway trudge. In this case alleviated by a large detour away from the A303 around Stonehenge, still leaving plenty of the M3 and M5 to 'enjoy'.

Grabbing a pre-bank hol ice cream
Grabbing a pre-bank hol ice cream
The reality
Heavy traffic and spitting rain meant speeds stayed down and the roof stayed up, but the interminable multi-lane grind did reveal two things about the car. One, that the three-layer roof does a remarkable job of sounding and feeling like a pukka coupe and, two, that the various information and entertainment systems provide a bored driver with more than enough to listen to/fiddle with on any given journey.

Once free of the heaviest westbound traffic, and on the gloriously over-named 'North Devon link road' there was time to open the glorious 6,208cc V8 up a little, and to start to enjoy the lion-gargling-Castrol-GTX soundtrack a little more, complete with cracks and bangs on the over-run. V8 howl duly enjoyed, it was time to nestle down for the night in a campsite just south of Ilfracombe.

Meeting the Rally For Heroes guys
Meeting the Rally For Heroes guys
We weren't the only folks out there trying to make the most of bank holiday motoring, either. As pure chance would have it, I pulled into Solstice services for a tea break to see a load of stickered-up cars. Turned out I had stumbled upon one of the first get-togethers of the 50 cars embarking on a charity road trip called Rally For Heroes (please go and support them here!) in support of Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. They were wolfing down a spot of food before heading to the nearby Tedworth house personnel recovery centre. They would then head out west for a day's fundraising on the seafront at Weston-Super-Mare. Would I care to meet back up with them and use the SLS roadster to help draw the crowds? It would be rude not to.

Sun? On a bank holiday?
The following day dawned borderline sunny. While undoubtedly pleasant, this did rather spoil my narrative of 'typically crap bank holiday saved by epic supercar'. Still, it would have been churlish to complain, so it was off with the roof and on with the journey.

It wasn't sunny all weekend...
It wasn't sunny all weekend...
Threading through the narrow, high-hedged lanes you're quickly aware of two things. First, how wonderful it sounds bouncing off the late spring leaves and, two, just how big it feels in the tight and twisty lanes - where there are white lines in the middle you'll be slapping the cat's eyes on one side of the car while kicking up dust and running over drains on the other.

It's actually not all that intimidating though. The ease of use and approachability Garlick blogged about means it's easy to concentrate fully on placing it on the road. Beyond Ilfracombe, stopping briefly for snaps and the inevitable barrage of questions, the coast road clings to the coast for a while, bank holiday trundlers at least meaning we had time to soak up the view before spearing inland to Exmoor.

Taking the scenic route
Taking the scenic route
Moor fun than you'd imagine
Running west to east across Exmoor is the A39 and, west of Lynton and Lynmouth the SLS finally began to be able to push on a little, revealing a fluidity and balance that seems to better the point-and-squirt nature of the coupe version. It's still a hot rod at heart - don't expect to be flinging an SLS point to point with the delicacy and precision of an MP4-12C or 458 - but it is hilariously grippy and extraordinarily rapid.

East of Lynmouth, however, the SLS did show its dynamic limitations. As we climbed up onto the more open stretches of moorland near Porlock the size and weight, and the increasingly undulating road surface, began to bounce the car around to the point where I felt for the first time I was actually in something over-engined. But these are roads that try the dynamic abilities of even the most focused lightweight special.

Enjoying Weston
Enjoying Weston
Another quick photo op at the gate to Butlins in Minehead (and another crowd drawn within seconds) and it was off to our final stop for the day - Weston-Super-Mare. By this point my bonce was feeling the pain of a morning's sun, so the roof had to go back on for the final schlep up to the Rally For Heroes gathering in Weston.

Weston is super
Weston is a place I'd never been before this point and, due to its reputation, I was not looking forward to it. But it's amazing what a spot of sunshine and some nice cars can do - as well as the Rally For Heroes guys there were various car clubs and just some generally nice motors. The SLS still drew a crowd, of course, though it was thoroughly shamed in an impromptu rev-off with the chap in the TVR Chimaera I'd parked next to...

So what did we learn from our little road trip? Well, apart from the fact that the SLS is a pretty epic car, we also learned the roads of north Devon and Somerset are lovely, that you can't even trust bank holiday weather to be reliably bad, and that an SLS plus a load of other nice motors makes Weston-Super-Mare a much more pleasant place to be... You've got four days off - why not give it a go?










MERCEDES SLS AMG ROADSTER
Engine:
6,208cc V8
Transmission: 7-Speed DCT twin-clutch, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 571@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft):479@4,750rpm
0-62mph: 3.8 sec 
Top speed: 197mph
Weight: 1,735kg
MPG: 21.4mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 308g/km
Price: £176,895 (basic list)

Riggers
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Author Discussion

Cyrus1971

Original Poster:

819 posts

124 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
Great car, instant classic, shame about the price for mortals. Still I think the rear end is one of the best resolved parts of the car, but sadly not resolved to my tastes. Looks a lot like, dare I say it, a "let's please America" kind of car ?

gmh23

249 posts

65 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
What a pointless article

fozzymandeus

684 posts

31 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
Not pointless. Gives me hope that Somerset is not the barren, interesting road devoid place I suspected and that my imminent move there from EVO triangle-land is not going to be as hopeless as I first thought.

So there, gmh0781054786ouigrfkh3j or whatever your name is.

sparks_E39

8,340 posts

98 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
What a beautiful car.

gmh23

249 posts

65 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
fozzymandeus said:
So there, gmh0781054786ouigrfkh3j or whatever your name is.
drunk?
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0a

13,068 posts

79 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
gmh23 said:
What a pointless article
I really enjoyed it.

Sorry.

fozzymandeus

684 posts

31 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
gmh23 said:
fozzymandeus said:
So there, gmh0781054786ouigrfkh3j or whatever your name is.
drunk?
Nuh-huh. Just thought your four word dismissal of someone's editorial was rather childish.

And, as it happens, materially inaccurate.

tommy vercetti

7,968 posts

48 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
Great looking car

Anubis

668 posts

64 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
Sorry; does nothing for me at all. It's a bit erm...(dare I say it) - bland? getmecoat

Edit: I know what it reminds me of now! A giant silver shoe

mrclav

529 posts

108 months

[news] 
Friday 1st June 2012 quote quote all
Anubis said:
Sorry; does nothing for me at all. It's a bit erm...(dare I say it) - bland? getmecoat

Edit: I know what it reminds me of now! A giant silver shoe
I assume when you say bland you mean you think it looks bland? Have you actually heard the engine in this car? It's without question one of the greatest mechanical symphonies ever composed by AMG (or anyone else come to that) - many things could be said about it but bland is a complete inaccuracy IMO.

5 USA

4,581 posts

130 months

[news] 
Saturday 2nd June 2012 quote quote all
IMO the most desirable car on sale today - by some distance.

AndrewW-G

11,968 posts

102 months

[news] 
Saturday 2nd June 2012 quote quote all
Always think of this from Sniff Petrol, whenever the SLS Roadster is mentioned


aston addict

81 posts

43 months

[news] 
Saturday 2nd June 2012 quote quote all
What an awesome car. I'm historically not the greatest Merc fan - but this looks the business. How they can go from producing a car that looks like that to the new SL is completely beyond me...

gmh23

249 posts

65 months

[news] 
Saturday 2nd June 2012 quote quote all
fozzymandeus said:
Nuh-huh. Just thought your four word dismissal of someone's editorial was rather childish.

And, as it happens, materially inaccurate.
Calm down dear, its only an opinion!

To be honest I was expecting less about the journey and more about the car.


Aids0G

104 posts

34 months

[news] 
Saturday 2nd June 2012 quote quote all
gmh23 said:
What a pointless article
I dont mean to be rude but how can an article that encourages people to go out and enjoy this country and as a massive bonus talk about a pretty special car be pointless??

Also articles where a supercar is used for this kind of thing are brilliant!

AG

mikey k

9,338 posts

101 months

[news] 
Saturday 2nd June 2012 quote quote all
Spooky I ws down that way last week in my roadster

http://pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&f...

I know throwing the SLS round those lanes was a hoot until you come head to head with an Old, Tractor or such like that thing is enormous! frown

speedmonkeycouk

55 posts

28 months

[news] 
Tuesday 11th September 2012 quote quote all
Drove the SLS AMG last week. Awesome car that's pretty easy to drive normally but turns into a complete animal when you ask it to. Sounds fantastic but not quite as brutal as the XKR-S

5 USA

4,581 posts

130 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th September 2012 quote quote all
I can see that SLS is a very "Corvette" kind of car and much prefer the convertible to the contrived gull-wing coupe. But the SLS driver sits m - i - l - e - s back from the front of the car which seems likely to make the whole thing a right p.i.t.a. on UK roads.

Wonder what the price will be in the used market a few years down the line?

Earl'Dingleberry

170 posts

25 months

[news] 
Thursday 13th September 2012 quote quote all
Deutsche Muskel Wagen.
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