Experienced: Mercedes-Benz Stardrive 2012

Being a luxury car-maker is tough. They are not only supposed to produce and sell cars with very high levels of quality and finesse, but also expected to keep their high-profile customers happy and content. The Stardrive Experience organized by Mercedes-Benz is one such event aimed mainly at its customers with the media also thrown in. Started in 2010 and currently in its third year, the Stardrive Experience has been conceptualized to show the engineering, safety and technical prowess of the cars wearing the three pointed star on their hoods. We participated in the Chennai leg of the event that was held on 19-May-2012 and here is how the two-hour event unwinded.

With the Madras Motor Sports Club's Irrungattukottai race-track being the backdrop and powerful sleeper cars like the C63 AMG and G55 AMG being a part of the show, we knew there would be no dearth of excitement. And we were proven right. Any Mercedes-Benz event these days is incomplete without the SLS AMG and the organizers know this very well. There it was, the gorgeous SLS AMG in red, basking in the hot Chennai sun, with its legendary 'gullwing' doors attracting many an eyeballs. The G55 AMG, though poles apart, gave the SLS good company and the duo served their purpose well as eye-candies of the event.

The event was split into three sections - Technical Briefing, Pre-Safe Demonstration and SUV Demonstration.


Mercedes-Benz has a rich legacy to showcase that just can't be compiled into a 10-minute video but that's precisely what they tried to do in this session. The short video drove home a few important facts about Mercedes-Benz, the company:

* Being the inventor of automobile 126 years ago, Mercedes-Benz till date owns about three-fourths of the global automotive patents.

* ABS, that has almost become a standard feature even in small cars these days, was first introduced by Mercedes-Benz.

* Safety of the occupants is of paramount importance to the company and every Mercedes-Benz car comes with a host of life-saving features.

* There are a whole lot of off-roading technologies that gives the ML, GL and G-Wagon SUVs unparalleled abilities both on and off the road.

The subsequent sessions were to demonstrate the last two points stated above.


All the participants were taken to the track in either the C63 AMG or the E350 CDI piloted by expert drivers. The course was designed with cones arranged in such a way that we could experience what ABS, EBD and ESP can do in emergency situations and bring the car back on course. Collectively, Mercedes-Benz refers to these features as 'Pre-Safe'.

ABS (Antilock Braking System) - Hard braking usually tend to lock the wheels thus making the car skid and slide while coming to a stop. ABS prevents the locking of wheels even when we slam the brakes hard, thus ensuring that the car comes to a stop in a straight line irrespective of the road surface.

EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution) – In panic-braking situations, it is generally impossible to maneuver the cars. EBD comes to the rescue in these cases by working in parallel with ABS. It distributes the brake force individually to each wheels depending on the situation, thus allowing us to control the car’s direction even while braking.

ESP (Electronic Stability Program) - Cars tend to skid when wheels lose traction with the road surface. In cars fitted with ESP, sensors detect loss of traction and starts acting immediately by applying counteracting forces to the other wheels. As a result, the car is steered back in its intended direction corresponding to driver’s inputs.


Climbing a 30 degree ramp with utmost ease and conviction, navigating through a set of ramps placed on alternative sides and dismissing a set-up with steep climb and descent angles convincingly - the ML and GL did all these, much to the excitement of many participants. It's not surprising, considering that 99 out of 100 customers who own these SUVs confine them to highways and expressways only. At the end of the session, usage of technologies like Airmatic, 4 Matic, Hill Climb Assist and Downhill Speed Regulator were effectively demonstrated. 

As for us, since we have experienced the off-roading capabilities of the G-Wagon, GL and ML in the mighty Himalayas before, this was just a recap (in a smaller scale) of what these trio were capable of.

Gauging the reactions of few of the customers who participated in the event, we have to say that Mercedes-Benz has really succeeded in their attempt of proving the might and worth of their models. After losing the leadership in luxury segment to BMW and now Audi, Mercedes-Benz is trying to regain its lost glory in India. Events like these will only help build the image and spread the awareness of the brand. As its tagline states, Mercedes-Benz made us 'Feel it'. And the best part is that the Stardrive Experience is open to public and those who are interested to participate can do so by clicking on the following link - Mercedes-Benz Stardrive.

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