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Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR 722

Broadcast date : 18th February 2007

Mercedes-Benz’s SLR McLaren has just got a whole lot better. The car had its international press launch in Cape Town a few years ago.

Although it impressed many scribes it was also criticised for being too heavy, tellingly by the South African designer involved at its conception, McLaren’s Gordon Murray.

The limited-edition of the SLR has just been launched and it makes history in being the first car named to honour a motoring journalist.

The new SLR 722 is named after the Mercedes SLR that won the famous Mille Miglia in 1955 crewed by Stirling Moss and Motorsport Magazine’s Grand Prix correspondent Denis Jenkinson.

The 722 nomenclature comes from the Mille Miglia SLR’s starting number, which referred to the fact that its start time for this notorious road-race was 7:22 am.

Incidentally, the Moss-Jenks car averaged over 160 km/h for the race, run on public roads that resembled Chapman’s Peak Drive for much of the way!

No-one ever accused the SLR of lacking drama. But with subtle visual changes the 722 edition has achieved that vital Edge-City component that the original lacked, with wheels that were too shiny and a ride height that made the car look soft.

The new 19-inch rims are black forged alloy items that look as if they could have been drawn from McLaren’s F1 parts bin at its headquarters in Woking, England, where the Merc-McLaren is built. Ditto for the new carbon nose spoiler and rear diffusors.

Another key to the new SLR’s sense of purpose is that the ride-height has been lowered, and the suspension stiffened up.

Mercedes claim an improvement in roll stiffness of some 20 per cent, which is probably a good thing, given that power on the car has now risen to 485 kilowatts.

And the SLR 722 sounds the part. Overlaying the V8 rumble is a shrill whine from the supercharger, an ominous sound that indicates something wild is about to happen.

New Brembo brake callipers and carbon brake discs are a natural upgrade for the 722 Edition Merc, and to reduce weight the dampers are now housed in aluminium, rather than steel casings.

A weight reduction of 44 kilograms has been achieved, thanks to the installation of various lightweight components.

The engine for the ultimate Mercedes remains the supercharged V8, using twin Teflon-coated screw-shaped rotors, and air-to-water intercoolers to compress a suitably dense air charge for the 5,5 litre unit.

The engines for the SLR 722 are assembled by Mercedes-Benz’s AMG in Affalterbach, Germany, and each hand-built engine has a plaque inscribed with the engine builder’s signature. Talk about an incentive to do the job right!

The standard SLR weighs in at 1690 kilograms, which is as heavy as some full-sized sedans.

This mass is surprising considering that the entire bodyshell is built from carbon fibre, and aluminium is used for engine sub-frames and suspension components.

The 44 kilogram shed by the 722 is thanks to detailed weight pairing.

But part of the problem with the high mass is that Mercedes insisted this car would be fully equipped with luxury and safety features, and a full complement of airbag and driver-aid devices.

It may be completely hand-built, but the high-standards of Mercedes panel fit and trim levels apply.

In this way it differs from many of its supercar competitors, which are much more competition orientated, with a more Spartan approach. The SLR is a Gran Turismo supercar.

The interior is still lavishly trimmed, but with 722 celebratory detailing.

This includes extra carbon panelling, special instruments, a new steering-wheel and rather sparse-looking seats with a 722 logo.

The car still uses a traditional five-speed automatic transmission, but most owners aren’t complaining.

The 0-100 time is reduced to 3,6 seconds, and the 200 km/h mark comes up in just over 10 seconds.

Top speed is up to an incredible three-hundred and thirty-seven!

And talking of owners, we hear that World Formula One champ Fernando Alonso has just taken delivery of one, now that he’s a bonafide McLaren Mercedes employee.

With the SLR assembled alongside his MP4 22 race-car at McLaren’s Woking base, presumably he can pop in for a quick tune-up and an oil change.

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