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01 October 2023

The Roadster races ahead

By Reena Amos Dyes



If you love racing but would rather do it in a thoroughbred race car than on a thoroughbred horse, then head for the nearest Mercedes-Benz showroom because they have just what you want in their stables.


The new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster, is a combination of the high-technology needed for motor-racing, the power of a top high-performance sports car with the long-distance attributes and sophisticated atmosphere of, well, a Mercedes.


Just like a thoroughbred Arabian horse this car has racing in its genes. In the mid-1950s three men, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Karl Kling re-wrote motor-racing history by winning the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Tourist Trophy, Eifelrennen and the Swedish Grand Prix, all the top races of those times.


Between them they made the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR one of the most successful racing sports cars of all time.


The new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster comes from the same family of SLR racing models and has the added advantage of the innovative technology used in the space and aviation sector.


Wassim Derbi, Marketing Manager of Gargash Enterprises, which is the exclusive distributor for Mercedes-Benz in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates said: “It has some very unique features like the butterfly doors, the extremely powerful engine that is similar to that of a Maybach and the material that it has been built with.

“The SLR is the world’s first series-produced car to have a front crash structure manufactured entirely from carbon fibre.”


The SLR is exclusively hand-built at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, England using carbon-fibre reinforced materials which are characterised by their extreme rigidity and the high level of energy absorption in the event of an impact. In fact, the energy absorption capacity of this material is four to five times higher than that of steel or aluminium.


Two conical carbon fibre composite elements (CFRP), each approximately 620 mm in length and weighing just 3.4 kg in the front of the SLR bodyshell are enough to completely absorb the full energy of a head-on collision.

The fibres of the CFRP will just shred from front to rear, absorbing the energy of the impact with a constant rate of deceleration The rear of the car has also been protected with two internal side members made from laminated carbon fibre and an extremely robust cross member.


Adaptive airbags, newly developed kneebags and sidebags, belt tensioners, high-performance ceramic brake discs and an automatically adaptive airbrake in the boot lid round off the range of safety equipment on board, setting new standards in this vehicle class.


However, apart from the safety aspects it is the butterfly doors, the high levels of practicality and the luxurious interiors that truly make the SLR stand out.


It comes with individually padded carbon-frame seats, a multifunction steering wheel with race-car-type buttons for manual gear selection, clearly arranged chronometer-style instruments and high-grade materials define the atmosphere inside.


Derbi said: “The car can be customised if the customer so desires, but only in terms of the interiors, not the engine.”


The newly developed V8 supercharged engine delivers an output of 460 kW/626 hp and accelerates the sports car from 0 to 100 kmph in 3.8 seconds. It passes the 200 kmph mark after 10.6 seconds, and from a standing start it takes just 28.8 seconds to reach 300 kmph. The top speed is 334 kmph.


This car has been priced at Dh2million to Dh2.2million and it comes in coupe and convertible version.

“This car is very exclusive and is usually bought by sheikhs, CEO’s and other high-end buyers in Dubai. We have sold just 11 cars in the region until now,” Derbi said.