Regular MotorBeam readers might be aware that Mercedes-Benz has been conducting a series of events called ‘Stardrive Experience’ since 2010. These ‘one-of-its-kind’ events are conceptualized by Mercedes-Benz in such a way that it highlights the engineering, safety and technical prowess of it’s models to both customers and media alike. Having been a part of a few of those exclusive events, we have not only shared the experience with you but have also tried to recreate the magic virtually through loads of photographs. When Mercedes-Benz invited us for the 2012 Stardrive Experience in Chennai, we set out to do the same. With powerful and exciting models like C63 AMG and G55 AMG being a part of the show and the Sriperumbudur race track on the outskirts of Chennai as the backdrop, it couldn’t get more interesting, isn’t it? Read on, to find out how the event unfolded.
On reaching the location, the gorgeous SLS AMG welcomed us in all its pristine glory. Sorry Mercedes-Benz, that was a logical flaw. After letting us feast on the magnificent SLS AMG with its legendary gull-wing doors, nothing that you show afterwards is going to impress us as much. As we strained ourselves to take our eyes off the stunner, we notice the day’s fleet parked amidst a carefully laid-out set-up designed to bring the best out of each of them. The sleek C63 AMG and the macho G55 AMG apart, the complete SUV range, which included the ML and GL Class, was there as were the regular C and E-Class sedans.
TECHNICAL BRIEFING: The event started with a ‘Technical Briefing’ which gave the participants an insight into the legacy of ‘Mercedes-Benz – the brand’ and how every Mercedes car comes with a host of life-saving technologies keeping the occupants’ safety in mind. Also showcased were Mercedes’ exemplary off-roading technologies that makes the ML, GL and G-Wagon forces to reckon with off-road. As a company that invented the automobile 126 years ago, it is only fitting that Mercedes-Benz owns about three-fourths of the global automotive patents.
The technical briefing was followed by demos in the cars driven by expert drivers.
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PRE-SAFE DEMONSTRATION: – How many of us know that Anti-lock Braking System or ‘ABS’ in short, which has become a household name for car safety now a days, was pioneered by Mercedes-Benz? Or how ABS, along with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) makes the cars so much more safer on our roads? The usage of each of these three key technologies were demonstrated, much to the excitement of the participants. The demo of Electronic Stability Program (ESP) coming to the rescue when the car loses control had the participants beaming in disbelief.
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Theoretically speaking, this is what these technologies do:
ABS – Normally when we slam the brakes hard, the wheels tend to lock making the car skid or slide while braking. ABS prevents the locking of wheels, thus ensuring that the car comes to a stop in a straight line, be it any surface.
EBD – Under hard braking, it is next to impossible to maneuver the car. In such cases, EBD works in tandem with ABS distributing the brake force
individually to each wheels depending on the situation and allowing us to control the car’s direction.
ESP – Skidding occurs due to wheels losing traction with the road surface. In ESP, sensors detect loss of traction on any of the 4 wheels and immediately starts acting. Counteracting forces are applied to the other wheels and the car is steered back in its intended direction corresponding to driver’s inputs.
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SUV DEMONSTRATION: We all know that almost 99% percentage of Mercedes’ customers don’t take their SUVs off-road at all. But that doesn’t mean those vehicles aren’t capable of venturing into dirt and dust. This section was to publicize the amazing mud and mountain-plugging capability of the GL and ML-Class. As the expert drivers took the participants through a prescribed course that included driving through an inclination of 30 degrees, a set of ramps placed alternatively on both sides and a steep climb and descent ramp, it was a revelation of sorts of what these behemoths are capable of. It is a pity that most of these cars are confined to do duties on expressways alone.
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An interesting statistic shared by Mercedes-Benz shows that almost half of the customers doesn’t really know that their cars are equipped with and capable of doing things like these. This event then was a really good attempt by Mercedes-Benz to prove a point to its existing and prospective customers. As the company’s advertising slogan goes, they made the media and the customers ‘feel it’. With BMW and Audi going on a rampage in India, events like these will only increase the awareness and image of the brand with the three pointed star.
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Unlike many other events, Stardrive Experience is open to the public. Those who are interested can participate in the event by registering on the Mercedes-Benz Stardrive website here.