When it comes to travel and get some wind in the hair, Mercedes-Benz is the only house that really satisfies any taste, offering a really wide and diversified range. From the smallest Smart Cabrio up to the new definition of luxury given by S Cabrio.
Thus, the history of Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet began long ago; 130 years ago the first car of the Stuttgart house was just an outsider (definitely in every sense!). Various Mercedes-Benz classic cars remained in history, in the ’30s, for example, the W02, the first car to carry the name of the current house to the iconic 300SL, reaching astronomical sums at auctions. Over the years, everything has been finalized, starting from the top, a century of evolution in fact separates the opening external manual era from the modern hard top retractable in less than 20 seconds, even while driving.
The range of the “discoveries” of the Star house is divided into Cabrio (Class C, E, S and Smart) and Roadster (SLC and SL). In order to give us a chance to touch and drive the innovations on the market, Mercedes-Benz has invited us to try S-Class Cabrio, SLC and SL in “our” Tuscany. How nice to finally play at home! Just arrived, I immediately recognize the forms of SLC, the name has changed, bringing it in line with the rest of the range, but you can still recognized well the evolution of the SLK, a former star of one of our articles.
The small roadster Mercedes-Benz has been on the market for 20 years, scoring a success that led to sell more than 600,000 units worldwide, thanks to the great revolution that took time with openable rigid roof, now enriched by the crystal with the Magic Sky Control, able to automatically darken thanks to the liquid crystal technology. SLC (or SLK) has not only brought news on the roof but it was also the first to equip the Mercedes-Benz technology called AIRSCARF that can improve the open-top driving comfort even on the coldest days. In this new SLC version also debuted a new 1600 engine turbo 156HP that is proposed at a price of 37000 EUR. My attention could only fall on the Mercedes-Benz SL.
From an early age I have always admired this car, and it is no coincidence that for more than 60 years, in 7 generations, it has been perfectly able to stand out for its double spirit of elegant and luxurious Roadster and Coupe from aggressive and dynamic stretches. First arrived, I can be assigned to the one that attracts me, a SL400 in a fantastic Blue.
Watching it parked, is a car that inspires fascination even at a standstill, the redesigned front with the now typical mask Matrix LED headlights and with a very sporty design, combined with air intakes on the hood and sides, giving it a distinctly elegant and sporty attitude, typical of this model. Over the years we have witnessed many improvements in design by Mercedes-Benz, but we see perfectly their commitment to keep the line of unmistakable SL.
Before to start, opening the trunk I can admire the evolution of the roof with electrohydraulic control.
It ‘s time to get on board and start our journey towards Castelfalfi. In the traffic of Florence, I have the opportunity to verify the opening of the roof in motion, function that does not go unnoticed that intrigued passersby stop to watch. We abandoned the city head to the FI-PI-LI, excellent exercise to test the open-top driving comfort. In these occasions, there is a perfect symbiosis of the AIRSCARF system with dual-zone automatic climate control which guarantee a march with the open-top but perfectly comfortable from the thermal point of view even on the not hottest days. I could once again experience the typical center console Mercedes-Benz and also the characteristic driving aids and active safety present in the actual models and already tested in previous articles.
Approaching Castelfalfi the road becomes more snaking and we are too far from places already discovered how the Poppiano’s or Artimino’s Castles. After being pampered by luxury and comfort is the time to test the sporting spirit of this car. Acting on the Dynamic Select controls, I’m going to set the Sport + mode that instantly changes the settings of the engine, gearbox, steering and chassis for a guide “aggressive” acting also on the ESP leaving more permissive. It’s time to have fun!
The engine makes its voice with its 3L V6 Bi-Turbo 367CV and 500Nm of torque singing burying his foot on the accelerator and mutters in issuing a really exciting sound, coupled with the 9-Gtronic change the clear winner for gear changing, thanks to the dual-clutch technology, although I would have preferred to have the 7-speed as in the AMG version.
It also perceives the work done on the chassis, for the first time in aluminum, which guarantees a good torsional stiffness and lightens the car of 120Kg while maintaining perfect resistance. How it acts through the Chianti curves? Well the feeling is very special, Mercedes-Benz in this new SL has introduced a new technology called Active Body Control with Tilting Function Curve. Shortly, this active system reduces body movements when cornering, and braking, turning the oil pressure inside the suspension. In this way the shock absorbers do not have the commitment to “support” the inertia of the car during the various load transfers allowing to have calibrations even softer with equal road holding ability.
The feeling that this system transmits to the driver exactly is this, Mercedes-Benz SL, also in setting sportier driving, remains very “soft” attitude and this can intimidate at the beginning but later, testing this innovative system, we realize that the car responds well in insertion and out of corners allowing to attack the street as if driving a much more rigid sport car. Very interesting. It did not end here; in fact, the system lowers and raises the car’s trim, adjusting the speed to also ensure optimum aerodynamic efficiency.
The last things that impressed me about this new SL is the fantastic Harman-Kardon audio system and the interesting new glass cleaning system called Magic Vision Control. The wiper fluid is sprayed directly from the wiper before the last of the brush ensuring a well-localized and precise cleaning, confirming that Mercedes-Benz SL is not only a car for the summer thanks to its hardtop.
Our tour continues after Castelfalfi in Chianti, in fact we have the pleasure of having lunch on the estate Castiglioni Marchesi de ‘Frescobaldi, and after enjoying some dishes of the Tuscan tradition well-known to me, I have the opportunity to make the last km of the day aboard S-Class Cabrio.
The S-Class Cabrio was not present in the Mercedes-Benz range since 1971 and the complete return of the flagship Stella range make possible to offer 6 different versions, also the famous Maybach brand has been re-discovered. I do not think it is possible to imagine a better way back! Class S Convertible manages to be the perfect definition of luxury, the interior in light leather are magnificent and the onboard technology is the best that Mercedes-Benz is able to offer. Every second aboard this car becomes experience. From driving in perfect comfort, thanks all’AirCup and windbreaks which provide a march without turbulence and active seats that support the body, to the parking lot with the closing of the beautiful fabric roof in 3 layers.
These few kilometers are definitely not enough to be able to tell more about this car and we hope to have an opportunity to be able to prove with proper attention this car or its closed version S Coupe. Thus ends a beautiful day with the wind in the hair, sun-kissed and cuddled while enjoyoing the Roadster and Convertible Mercedes-Benz.
By: Edoardo Mascalchi
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi
Video: Edoardo Mascalchi