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2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

2dr Roadster 5.5L

Starting at | Starting at 12 MPG City - 16 MPG Highway

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  • $495,000 original MSRP
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2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

Benefits of Driving a 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

The Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR roadster is one of the most exclusive models being produced for the 2008 model year by any manufacturer. And while its sticker price may stop just short of a half million dollars, it offers performance that only a handful of production cars on the planet can match.

What's new for 2008?

Mercedes-Benz has changed the well regarded SLR McLaren from a coupe to a roadster for the 2008 model year. The engine ratings match the 2006 numbers of 617 horsepower and 575 ft-lbs of torque. Though Mercedes-Benz has neither confirmed nor denied future plans for the SLR, 2008 is rumored to be the last year for the Teutonic supercar.

Model Strengths

  • World-beating performance now in top-down guise
  • exclusivity
  • unmistakable looks.

Model Review

Mercedes-Benz' AMG performance arm developed the SLR in conjunction with F1 luminary McLaren, and the result is one of the finest cars in the world. For 2008 it carries revised bodywork, with a retractable fabric soft top that can be lowered in less than ten seconds. The engine is a hand-built 5.5L supercharged V8 engine with twin intercoolers that produces 617 horsepower and 575 ft-lbs of torque. All of that power is directed to the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission that features three manual modes.

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2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

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2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR

Source: New Car Test Drive

Overview

Mercedes-Benz offers a very nice roadster of its own, the SL, this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. Ranging in price from $96,000 to $188,000, the top-performing SL65 AMG model comes with a supercharged V12 engine. Mercedes also has a deep-rooted technical partnership with McLaren Technologies, which races in Formula One with Mercedes-Benz engines, and from that relationship have already sprung the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR coupe and the higher-performance SLR 722 version of the coupe. The market has told the two companies that it's now time for the ultimate Mercedes-Benz roadster, just in time to commemorate that 50th anniversary. In round numbers, the price of this amazing roadster is going to be $495,000, with destination and delivery charges of $2750.

Mercedes-Benz doesn't have a rear-mid-engine supercar in its model lineup as Ferrari and Lamborghini and Porsche do, so it has chosen to create, with lots of technical help and finally assembly by McLaren, in England, a sort of long-nose, short-deck front-mid-engine supercar. The engines are built in Germany by Mercedes-Benz's in-house high-performance shop, AMG, and shipped to England for installation in these very special bodies.

The roadster bodies are completely new, not cut-down versions of the SLR coupe bodies. They are made entirely of three-layer carbon fiber at McLaren's race shop. Carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP, is about five times stronger than steel in crush (or crash) situations, at about half the weight. (It's also a lot more expensive.) The one-piece body is then fitted with a huge V-shaped aluminum beam structure on each side that attaches to the front of the firewall to carry the engine, transmission, front suspension and steering. The carbon fiber fenders and hood complete the body.

In front of all that, there is an elaborately constructed carbon fiber crash bar that can handle huge amounts of impact, after which its disposable cones crumble into dust as the impact progresses. At the rear, there is an all-aluminum independent suspension system that looks like it was ripped directly out of a racing car. No other car in the world is built quite like this one, and it is as beautiful underneath as it is brutish on the outside. The only major panels shared with the coupe are the scissor doors.

The 626-horsepower 5.5-liter supercharged V8 engine nestles under the long, long hood, breathing directly through the Mercedes-Benz star in the nose of the car, and exhausting through a compact, front-mounted exhaust system that exits through the bottom edges of the front fenders. This does three things. It works very well for emissions, keeping the catalytic converters hot. It helps the engine breathe better at higher rpm. It eliminates a lot of pipes and mufflers under the car, which has a flat bottom for aerodynamic purity. Oh, and four, it puts the sound of that V8 engine very close to the cockpit, where it can be appreciated. Read on to our Driving Impressions to see what we thought of all this.

Model Lineup

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR comes in two coupe versions, already on the market, and one roadster version. The roadster comes in one very complete trim level, as you would expect for just under half a million dollars.

There are a few options on the list, including 19-inch wheels in a turbine design; brake calipers painted in gold or red ($850); black carbon-fiber inserts in the interior panels ($1550); special Silver Arrow leather in 13 colors, with embossed SLR logos ($9,950); contrasting upholstery seams in 300 SL red, orion grey or black ($610); a two-tone steering wheel matching the second interior color ($610); floor mats with leather piping in the second interior color ($370); and provision for a mobile telephone with a universal interface. And that's about it. The standard navigation system is different from all other Mercedes-Benz systems, compact, but useful.

Part of the ordering process for any SLR is a fitting trip to Woking, England, where the cars are built, to select your paint (13 colors) and interior color, add your options, and be fitted for one of the four different bucket seat widths that are offered, from narrow to extra-wide. You also get a complete tour of the Mercedes-McLaren Formula One race shop and the rest of the $300 million McLaren Technologies facility, an ultramodern building with its own lake, built by one of the world's greatest architects, Norman Foster.

Walkaround

Just one look will tell anyone nearby that the SLR Roadster is something very special, a legitimate 200-mph car. From that long, pointy nose and front spoiler to the side exhaust pipes, the functional hood vents and fender vents and the scissor doors, there are very few front-engine cars that carry with them this kind of visual impact, and two of those are the aforementioned SLR coupes.

The main differentiator is the tight-fitting, tightly designed convertible top. Once the latch is released and the button pushed, a second push of the button will automatically stow and hide the top in a mere 10 seconds. Putting the top up is even easier than that. When the top is down, the decibels from the front fender-mounted exhaust pipes go way, way up, but that's part of the car's charm and part of what you're paying for in an exoticar like this one.

The rear bodywork behind the convertible top well contains an automatic air brake that functions like the ones used on Mercedes-Benz race cars of the 1950s, raising automatically to help slow the car and keep the rear end stable under hard braking. The rear underbody of the roadster has a built-in undertray to control airflow and add high-speed stability as well.

Interior Features

The SLR's inclusive list of standard equipment includes semi-aniline leather-upholstery mounted to a pair of carbon-fiber bucket seats that can be adapted to the driver and front passenger by means of different sized seat pads; dual-zone automatic air-conditioning; a Bose premium sound system; a multifunction sport steering wheel with gear-shift paddles, and a navigation system with an integral AM/FM radio and CD-changer built into it.

Don't look for a lot of fancy polished wood or chrome inside the SLR, because there isn't any. This is a very sporty interior, mostly black, with brushed finishes on most of the metallic pieces that don't flare back into your eyes in bright sunlight with the top down. Our silver test car had a black interior with a sort of terra cotta red accent trim, and it was all put together perfectly, with the accent on delivering necessary data to the driver as quickly and clearly as possible through two central instrument pods up high on the dash panel.

Driving Impressions

Wow! would be a good place to start, followed by mind-bending and heart-pounding. Although Mercedes-Benz quotes a 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) time of only 3.8 seconds, or about three heartbeats, it feels even quicker than that, and it will just keep going, up and up, faster and faster, until you reach a top speed of about 200 mph, depending on headwinds. Power delivery is very smooth and very linear, more like a turbine or a jet than a piston engine. It's aided in its mission by a five-speed automatic transmission with three shift modes, Comfort, Sport and Manual, with Manual using either the floor shifter or steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual shifting. Within the Manual mode, there are three further choices for upshift and downshift speeds, Sport, Supersport and Race.

The way the engine and transmission mass have been centered and lowered in the chassis gives the SLR roadster a built-in willingness to turn left or right very quickly through the quick-ratio power steering system. The race-quality double-arm front and rear suspension systems combine with the extremely stiff body and chassis to give the SLR beautiful pinpoint steering and handling in open-road situations.

The electrohydraulic anti-lock braking system on this car is phenomenal. The 14.6-inch front and 14.2-inch rear discs are made of carbon fiber ceramic like racing brakes, and the system uses eight-piston calipers at the front and four-piston calipers at the rear. These brakes are powerful enough to generate 2000 horsepower of braking force, or 1.3g of braking deceleration, and the brakes are reported to last up to 180,000 miles before needing replacement. The brake pedal is very sensitive at first, but once you get used to using them, the brakes become an important tool in overall driving enjoyment. They work in concert with the air brake built into the body, which rises up at a 65-degree angle to increase braking at the rear and keep the car stable, and the brakes also have a hill-holder feature and a traffic-crawling feature that lets the driver use the accelerator pedal only in thick traffic to keep the car trudging along at speeds up to 36 mph. You can even have your brake calipers painted in a choice of silver, red or gold to match or contrast with the body paint.

In thick traffic and city driving, though, you have to be careful, because the long nose of the car is way, way out there in front of you, and you simply can't see it, so we'd recommend rear-first parking, because the rear end is easier to see.

Summary

If you have half a million dollars not committed elsewhere, and you want a whole lot of car that says a whole lot about you and the level of performance you demand in life, in business, and in automotive transportation, the Mercedes-Benz SLR roadster make a grand entrance like very few other cars in automotive history. Yet it's not moody or persnickety or uncomfortable for long, meandering drives through the countryside. But this car is also very much about pulling up to country clubs, movie premieres, sporting events, restaurants and night clubs with the top down and the panache oozing from every molecule. Great car, all around.

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent Jim McCraw test drove the SLR Roadster in Germany and filed this report from Konigstein.

 

Copyright © 1994-2007 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Std
Daytime Running Lights Std
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std
Rain Sensing Wipers Std

Accident Prevention

Handsfree Wireless Std

Security

Alarm Std
Anti-theft System Std
Telematics Std
Printable Version

2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Miles

Months

Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

The MBCPO Limited warranty provides vehicle coverage for 12 months and Unlimited vehicle miles and begins at the expiration of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty
Age/Mileage Eligibility 6 years / 75,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection Yes
Return/Exchange Program Yes. See dealer for details.
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible No

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR Convertible

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