THE CARS OF ENTOURAGE
2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Coupe
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Published on Mon, Sep 26, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
In honor of the last season of HBO’s Entourage, LA Car is presenting its series of reviews showcasing the cars and the magic of this award-winning program. Next up: The successor to the iconic 300SL Gull Wing—the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe. Among other things, it's the first production Mercedes to re-introduce the “gull wing” doors. John Grafman reports. Words and pictures by John Grafman Eric Gets a Gift Ah, Mr. Eric Murphy. Eric is the level-headed manager of the show’s lead character, the popular actor and man-about-town, Vincent Chase. The two of them have been life-long friends, along with Vince’s brother, self-defeating actor Johnnie Chase. Turtle is the fourth friend, roommate and NY transplant in the tight-knit group. Being a bit short on stature, Eric takes a fair amount of ribbing and abuse from his buddies. One thing Mr. Murphy isn’t short on is luck. Eric, or “E” as he is affectionately known as, has morphed over the past seasons into a savvy and respected entertainment agent. The gods must have smiled on him. First he becomes the manager of his friend Vincent on his meteoric rise to one of Hollywood’s hottest properties. This is a far cry from his prior job as a supervisor at Sbarro’s, which earned him the nickname Pizza Boy. Second, he somehow found true love in a wonderful, beautiful woman in a town filled to the brim with nut jobs and rejects from the Jerry Springer Show.
His character, played masterfully by native New Yorker Kevin Connolly, is humble and honest, at least most of the time. While normally very reserved, he isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. When push comes to shove, he’s the one you want in your corner. Coming out west required a set of wheels. In his case, that happened to be a rather used Honda Prelude. Not really the car of a mover and shaker, but everyone has to start somewhere. As Vince hits it big, he endows his manager with a generous reward. So for the past several seasons, Eric had to suffer with a magnificent Aston Martin DB9 Convertible. That car definitely makes a statement.
Again, the hits keep on coming for Mr. Murphy. While on a break from his fiancée Sloan, he hooks up with his Melinda. Melinda happens to be the ex-wife of Terrence, a ruthless, powerful agent, and coincidentally Sloan’s father. One could call the affair complicated. In the episode entitled “Big Bang”, Melinda bestows upon “E” a new Mercedes-Benz SLS. This is in gratitude for his assistance in her getting a role in a television series, and supposedly had nothing to do with the sexual affair between them. And to think some people just send a thank you card.
The Return of the Gull-Wing The SLS is indeed a handsome and unique ride, not to mention a gracious gift. After days in the driver’s seat, I can say that this has earned praised in our eyes, as well as a little scorn. In setting the record straight, this is definitely a six-figure car. From what we can tell, however, Entourage must be paying some extensive dealer mark-up. Unlike the $300K quoted on the show, we see the pricing on the SLS at a more competitive $189,600. One can buy a nice Nissan GT-R with the spare change! The SLS has graced the show several times before. While the attention is on the characters in the foreground, it didn’t take too much effort to spot the Mercedes in the entry of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. And true to life, it isn’t that odd to find one in real life at this hotel and other trendy hotspots.
The Right Stuff The hand-assembled 6.3-liter, eight-cylinder AMG engine is a rush. The 563 horsepower engine is civil for driving around the tony neighborhoods of L.A., but let the tiger out of the cage and this is as ferocious as anything one can imagine. The SLS is much more suited to track activities or wide-open spaces, as it can achieve a top speed of 197 miles per hour. This is a road-going Wernher von Braun rocket. Drivers feel like astronauts once the gas pedal is depressed and the needle races towards the 7,200-rpm redline. The G force derived from 3.7-second 0-60 blasts firmly suck one into the seatbacks. NASA can learn a ton from this German. The automatic transmission is put into gear with a shifter that sits low on the center console. The action required is less of a shift, and more of a toggle into drive or reverse. The shifter’s shape is aircraft inspired, and the leather wrap is embossed with a stately AMG emblem. This also comes with metal finished paddle shifters, to provide shift it yourself control.
Driver control settings on the center console adjust launch. Settings range from Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus, to the track-suggested Race start mode. Additional driver controlled adjustability is available in three suspension settings. The steering wheel button can also switch the SLS into full AMG mode, so the eyes never have to look down. Roller-coaster, eye-popping like deceleration is possible by the huge 15.4-inch compound disc brakes (14.2 inches in the rear), which are internally ventilated and perforated as well. The iconic gull-winged doors harken to the 1950s 300SL Benz. The door does create unusual circumstances. The practical Eric Murphy recognizes the high-profile PR value of the gull-wing doors, but-user friendly it’s not. Bending over to open the door, and sliding your ass over the wide, padded rocker is anything but graceful. The high arching doors do require a long arms reach from a seated position (door straps aren’t provided). Additionally, don’t expect to find door pockets for storage, or seat controls that are normally found on Benzes.
Inside Looking Out The seat adjustment controls are relocated to the side and front of the seat. Being about the same height as Kevin Connolly, I can attest that this car has a flaw that could all but render this car to being a garage queen. The driver side seat buttons for the back, lumbar, and side bolsters are located in front of the seat, residing just under the driver’s right leg. Sadly, the plastic box housing the buttons interferes with the driver’s lower leg—especially for shorter drivers. Not only is it completely uncomfortable, it might even activate the switches accidentally. This is really out of character for this car company. On the flip side, the interior appointments are top flight. Even the most jaded of celebrities will find the fit and finish hard to beat. Just the use of carbon fiber alone on the center console is magnificent. The leather, stitching, and metalwork are beyond reproach. Every touch point is perfection. Even the vanes on the air vents are metal, feeling cold to the touch. In other words, all the parts look like the real McCoy, because they are! What a novel idea.
Fortunately for the passengers, with a height just under 50 inches, this isn’t exactly the lowest of exotics. It might seem a little claustrophobic inside, as it’s still a relatively low roofline and there’s not much space behind the seats. Nevertheless, compared to other exotic cars, this feels spacious and the interior design really creates a sense of openness. Less than sorted out: The telematics system can’t import the owner’s telephone address/contact list, rendering use of the onboard phone all but useless. How is an entertainment agent supposed to survive? Even a nicely place knob on the back of the seats, presumably there to offer additional capacity for clothes in the space challenged vehicle, isn’t large enough to accommodate more than one hanger. Odd.
Techno and Technology Almost making up for the lack of phone connectivity (in regards to the address book) is the stellar Bang & Olufsen audio system. This does work with the iPhone’s (and iPod’s) stored music. The cord in the glove box allows connectivity. However, the extremely short cord won’t allow the driver to hold or reach the phone while driving. So, the choice becomes one of either phone or music. As playing with the phone is not only dicey while driving, it’s also illegal. Sticking with the music is the way to go. Leveraging its technical know-how, Mercedes provides a very good radar sensor system to warn drivers of objects that might be a problem for the low slung front end of the long hood. Nevertheless, even the most moderate of driveway inclines can pose a problem. Nothing like pulling in or out of a valet drive, or parking lot in Beverly Hills only to scrape the front. While taking those situations at an angle helps to prevent that, often times it’s just unavoidable.
On the Road The long 105.5 wheelbase leads to a smooth and stable ride at high speeds. But, combined with the low side sill height, that can lead to having the car high-centered, or marooned occasionally on spots that most cars have no problem with. The unusual proportions can be tricky, but the added electronic aids, such as collision warning systems on the side not only provide a visual clue in the mirrors, it will give an audible warning should the driver activate the lane change indicator. However, the amazing speed sensing cruise control isn’t part of the package. The flush trunk mounted rear spoiler deploys at speed or can be activated manually. The trunk beneath is able to swallow a couple small travel bags. There is an above-normal amount of heat back there. It’s not the best place for perishables, but it’s perfect for keeping to-go orders from restaurants.
Eric’s Epilogue Eric appears to be quitting the business in the show’s final episode. However, in the future, if he’s in need of a little spending cash he might consider returning to his roots in the pizza business. The SLS could easily be the fastest delivery vehicle of all time. Perhaps this could be an Entourage spin-off series. After-all, every good show deserves a sequel. I can see the title now, “The Pizza Boy Strikes Again”. For more information on Mercedes-Benz products, go to www.mbusa.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Coupe Price: $189,600 (base) $217,325 (as tested): Includes designo Magno Monza Grey paint, carbon fiber engine compartment covers, carbon fiber trim, AMG Dynamic Suspension, 19-inch/20inch AMG 10-spoke forged light alloy wheels, Bang & Olufsen 1000 watt sound system, destination and delivery charges, and gas guzzler tax. Engine type: 6.3-liter V8, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, 8 Velocity Stacks Intake EPA mileage estimates (city/highway): 14/20 miles per gallon Horsepower: 563 @ 6,800 rpm Torque: 479 pound –feet @ 4,750 rpm Drive configuration: Front/mid-engine layout / rear-wheel drive Transmission type: Rear Transaxle AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT seven-speed sports transmission, with AMG DRIVE UNIT with E-SELECT LEVER shift control. Suspension: AMG 3-Stage ESP Front: Aluminum double wishbone suspension, anti-dive, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Rear: Aluminum double wishbone suspension, anti-squat and anti-dive systems, coil springs, gas-filled shock absorbers, stabilizer bar Wheels and tires Front: Standard: 9.5J x 19”, 265/35 R19 Rear: 11J x 20”, 295/30 R20 Brakes: Front: Compound disc brakes, internally ventilated and perforated, 15.4 x 1.42-inch Rear: Compound disc brakes, internally ventilated and perforated, 14.2 x 1.02-inch Dimensions Overall length: 182.6 inches Overall width: 76.3 inches Overall height: 49.69 inches Curb weight: 3,573 pounds Performance 0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds Top speed: 197 mph