Friday, 11 March 2011

Carlsson C25 Royale - A Guilty Pleasure

This used to be a Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
By all accounts, I should hate this car for being a heavily modified version of a perfectly brilliant supercar (of sorts). It's got unpainted sections of carbon fibre, a huge power increase, stupid LED lights in the bumper, immense gloss-black wheels, a stupid name and all the Mercedes badges removed and replaced by those of some tuning company...

So why on Earth am I strangely attracted to it?

This is the Carlsson C25 Royale, a limited-run of 25 extreme tuning kits for the already-not-slow-at-all Mercedes SL65 AMG, a car with a tyre-shredding 6.0 V12 BiTurbo producing 612bhp and 737lb/ft of torque. After they've cracked out their spanners and hammers, however, that same V12 produces an apocalyptic 753bhp... and 973lb/ft. Nine hundred and seventy three!!! That's enough rotational energy to spin the moon in the other direction! (Probably.) Actually, it's clearly proven to be too much, as it's had to be limited to 848lb/ft in order to stop the gearbox from exploding. Mind you, that's still 37 more than the Pagani Huayra, whose engine shares a tenuous link to this beast (they use the same basic block). It's also a significant 180kg lighter than the AMG, making it a still-quite-chubby 1869kg. That ups the power/weight ratio by about 100bhp/tonne (from 295 to 402). So basically, it's much much faster than the really fast SL65 upon which it's based.

The first angle I saw it from - barely recognisable as a Mercedes SL
That could have something to do with it - as could a 3.7-second 0-60 time and 220mph - except that people have been modifying SL AMGs for years now, and even AMG's own attempt, the SL65 AMG Black Series, has proven virtually undrivable without being seriously neutered by the traction control system, rendering all that extra power utterly useless. If you knew a computer hacker who could disable the TC, then you'd enter a world of infinite wheelspin, uncontrollability in even a straight line and 5-minute rear tyres that'll no doubt cost a fortune to replace, unless you use the throttle like a petrified 17-year-old learner or a pensioner, meaning the extra power is still pointless, except that now you'll probably die finding that out the hard way.

I think it's the bodywork. Yes, it has vulgar unpainted sections of carbon fibre and silly LED daytime running lights and stupidly oversized exhausts (I'd have made that divide parallel with the sides, personally), but as you may have noticed, the exterior makeover is so extensive that it doesn't even look like an SL any more. Even the lights are bespoke. It has a fixed roof, bespoke door handles, in fact I'm pretty sure not a single body panel from the original car has remained. Because of this, one can't really consider the design as a modified SL, but more like a new car altogether. If you do that, and mentally colour in some of those carbon bits, remove the LEDs and maybe tone down the exhausts a bit as well, then this is actually - dare I say it? - a pretty nice-looking car. The deep wine-like red and black wheels definitely help, and from some angles it exudes pure, undiluted menace. The partially-unpainted bonnet almost looks good enough to remain so (hey, it works on the Porsche GT2 RS), especially when matched to the unpainted roof.

The interior, however, can be thought of like a modified SL. It's pretty tasteless. A bit less red would fix that, though.
Feel free to disagree. It could easily just be that I've been desensitised to it by long-term exposure to motoring offences from the likes of Mansory and Hamann, and thus the Carlsson just doesn't seem so bad, but if I had several monies, I'd certainly ask them about painting a few more bits and changing the tailpipes, just for me. Hey, the customer IS always right, you know...

Here's the original SL65 AMG, as well as the 670PS Black Series version, just to compare:

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