BizRadio chats to Thegandra Naidoo about the new Mercedes SL range and then takes a look at car braking systems and their invaluable role of keeping you safe on the road.
On the road: Mercedes’ SL range is reserved for the elite…
The Mercedes SL is a very exclusive vehicle, and thanks to its popularity with the upper classes, it also brings its owner a certain amount of prestige.
The sixth-generation Mercedes SL has quite a bit to live up to. Over the years the SL design has been evolved rather than reinvented, and the body has been smoothed out compared to the previous model, which highlights a desire to stay true to the original.
ROAD: Thegandra Naidoo in coversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
A long bonnet and small cabin cries out traditional roadster, but sadly from a distance it is all too easily confused with an SLK. In the cabin nevertheless, the Stuttgart manufacturer lives up to its heritage, by tastefully blending fine leather, metal trim and aero-inspired instruments to create a feeling of grandeur.
The large V8 petrol engine in the SL 500 produces 320kW and 700Nm. It is blisteringly quick, accelerating from 0-100kph in 4.6 seconds and up to an electronically limited top speed of 250kph. Opt for the SL63 or SL65 models and acceleration becomes supercar-worrying in its pace, although the handling is more suited to cruising than lapping a track.
The driving position is very comfortable and offers plenty of adjustments. Visibility is also surprisingly good whether the roof is up or down, however the electronically controlled wind deflector can obstruct the rear view when raised. The car is much lighter than before and features a 57mm increase in track. This really improves handling, and although the SL can’t quite match a Porsche 911, it isn’t too far off.
The Mercedes SL hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but thanks to a large array of airbags and electronic safety features, as well as the German brand’s excellent reputation, potential buyers can be sure it will rate five stars.
It’s brimming with driver aids such as adaptive braking, stability control, anti-skid mechanisms and traction control, and it also includes a system that detects when the driver is feeling tired. Older versions of the SL developed a few electrical gremlins after a few years, but it is too early to tarnish this new model with the same brush.
When you think about the Mercedes SL, forget the need for four seats, non-mark material and useful things like resistant plastic bumpers to squeeze into a parking slot. The SL instead focuses on giving driver and passenger ample room inside the cabin, while the boot – which has 350-litres with the lid down – is more than big enough for a couple of small suitcases. Parking sensors are standard and to get the most out of the South African summer, the hard roof comes off in 20 seconds.
There’s no hiding from the fact that the Mercedes SL is an expensive buy, and this statement even stands true in light of its over-priced rivals. When you look at its fuel consumption it’s enough to make a Toyota Prius driver faint.
In its most efficient set-up, with a 4.7L V8 petrol engine, it barely returns 10-litres per 100km; however this is a massive 30 per cent improvement on the naturally-aspirated engine on the previous model. So running cost can be expected to be high, however, it’s no more expensive than a BMW 6 Series.
At R1 665 000, it’s a vehicle usually reserved for the elite. The price includes a 100 000 km/6 years. But if you looking for a car with soul and character, you should look at the Mercedes-Benz SL range.
Tech chat: Car braking systems
Most would agree that brakes are the most important feature of your car—but do you know how to detect when there’s a problem with your brakes, or how to do a maintenance check on your brake system?
Below are the standard warning signs that something might be wrong with your brakes. If you’re noticing any of the following symptoms, be sure to follow the links at the bottom of this article for step-by-step instructions for checking and replacing your brake system, including the master cylinder, brake lines and disc brakes. And if your brakes happen to go out while you’re driving, follow these rules for handling the situation.
Tech: Thegandra Naidoo in coversation with BizRadio’s Grant Jansen
Podcast | Click HERE to listen
1. Unusual Noises – If you hear your brakes squeal or make a grinding noise when you use them, it’s a sign that they may need adjustment or replacement. Grinding noises are particularly serious, as they indicate that your brake pads are worn may need to be replaced.
2. Brake Warning Lights – If the brake or Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) warning light on your dashboard lights up, it means you’re running on low brake fluid. See the master cylinder section for details on how to add more fluid, and also follow the instructions for brake line inspection—usually low fluid means that there’s a leak somewhere in your brake lines.
3. Pulling – If your car pulls to one side when you apply the brakes, it could mean your brakes are maladjusted, there is brake fluid leakage, or your brakes are worn out and need to be replaced.
4. Pedal Problems – If your brake pedal feels “spongy” or hard to press down, it usually means that air has gotten into the brake lines. You may also be having an issue with low brake fluid. Be sure to check your master cylinder and your brake lines.
5. Bad Vibrations – If your steering wheel, brake pedal or entire car shakes or vibrates when you apply the brakes, your brake rotors may be warped and need replacement.
To head many of these issues off at the pass, be sure to have your brakes checked periodically (once or twice a year).
Thegandra Naidoo? A motoring journalist. He has a decade’s experience in the automotive industry and is best known for his technical knowledge of cars. He has worked on various local television productions and co-presented a motoring feature on Kaya FM a few years back. He currently holds the position as Features & Online Editor for Automotive Business Review. He is currently completing a mid-career Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thegandra is a FULL member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.