Mercedes-Benz SL tyres
1954 saw Roger Bannister break the four-minute mark for the mile, Doris Day top the charts and a teenage Lester Piggott win his first Derby. It also saw the launch of both the Wimpy Bar and the Mercedes-Benz SL. Almost incredibly, the car is not only alive at sixty but also still in the very best of health.
Timeless appeal, luxury and a continued position as the epitome of good taste mean that the SL has always topped the wish-list of countless drivers. It is head-turning without being brash and supremely comfortable to drive. A list of its owners reads like a who’s who of the Twentieth Century. It includes Stavros Niarchos, Juan Manuel Fangio, Sophia Loren, Frank Sinatra, Alfred Hitchcock, Grace Kelly, the Princess of Wales and even Bobby Ewing. What’s amazing about the SL is that the product is true to the heritage, a triumph of both design and engineering.
If there’s one criticism of the SL, it is that a diesel has never been made. Purists might scoff at the very idea of it, while Mercedes-Benz will refer you to the demands of the USA, this car’s biggest market, where there’s simply no demand for a diesel model.
While the car is not famed for its performance it nonetheless offers premier league acceleration and speed. It is also as refined as you would expect. Critically, it is that rare thing, an aspirational car which appeals to both men and women in equal measure.
Needless to say, SL drivers won’t cut corners when it comes to tyres. Why on earth would they? Naturally the tyres factory-fitted by Mercedes are premium types from well-known names in the market while older SL models deserve the best, too. Many options are available in Mercedes-approved (‘MO’-stamped) versions to ensure optimum resonance and support to the car’s performance.
Continental’s SportContact and PremiumContact ranges top etyres’ list of best-selling tyres for the SL. These are both available in ‘MO’ versions and offer durability as well as the grip levels this car demands. This grip translates into optimum roadholding in both wet and dry conditions and is an important safety benefit in terms of stopping distances. Both ranges also ensure high levels of driver comfort and a smooth ride, important characteristics of the SL.
The SL is all about cruising comfort rather than sports handling. It seems a little odd, therefore, to think that Michelin’s Pilot Sport tyres, designed for high-performance sports cars, would make a good match for the SL. However, they are a remarkably popular choice with SL drivers, probably because of their supreme grip and roadholding in all conditions. They are also known to be particularly durable for everyday driving. Other premium sports tyres to consider include Goodyear’s Eagle F1 Asymmetric range and Vredestein’s Ultrac Sessanta tyre: both will suit the sportier SL driver. Pirelli’s P Zero tyre, available in ‘MO’ format, is another popular choice.
Yokohama’s Advan Sport tyre may not be as widely-used as those above but it is original equipment for many SL models. This tyre has an ‘A’-rating for grip and has gained praise from many Mercedes-Benz drivers in customer reviews. Michelin’s Energy Saver range will suit SL drivers with a light right foot and cars covering a lower annual mileage, while Bridgestone’s Potenza tyres are another popular option for everyday use.