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Active Body Control (ABC)....too much of a magic carpet ride?

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Active Body Control (ABC)....too much of a magic carpet ride?

 
Old 03-18-2019, 07:20 PM
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Active Body Control (ABC)....too much of a magic carpet ride?

There has been a huge amount of commentary on the pluses and minuses of ABC. Those who have it (and have had it) in their cars swear by it. Those who have had issues with struts, actuators, blocks and pumps have moaned about the cost of repairs because of the system's complexity. Thankfully, there have been very helpful posts on troubleshooting and DIY repairs. It seems to me that if you can, and want, to spend the $4K+ for the ABC option (to say nothing of the $100K+ for the car), you should not be too concerned with repairs. As they say, if you have to ask "how much" you probably shouldn't spend the money on the option or, for that matter, on the car.
I will by ordering a SL 450 next year before the hardtop is discontinued and am considering the ABC option. Yes, I can afford it and the idea of smooth ride is compelling, but what I'm curious to know from those of you who have it is whether the ride is so much like a magic carpet ride that you loose the "connection" with the road that comes with a regular suspension?
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:25 PM
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Test drive an SL with ABC as many times as you can for as long as you can, before deciding, even if you have to travel a couple of hours to get to one. Part of it depends on your mind’s assumptions about what a roadster ride should feel like. I test drove one with ABC for about 15 min, on relatively smooth road, and had a negative impression of the exact “magic carpet” type feeling you describe. So i got an SL from inventory without ABC. After driving it for 6 months on all kinds of roads I started to wonder about that decision. I test drove a car with ABC again and that smooth ride felt pretty good. If I had to do it over again I would probably go with the ABC.

Last edited by allfortheunion; 03-18-2019 at 08:33 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by allfortheunion View Post
Test drive an SL with ABC as many times as you can for as long as you can, before deciding, even if you have to travel a couple of hours to get to one. Part of it depends on your mindís assumptions about what a roadster ride should feel like. I test drove one with ABC for about 15 min, on relatively smooth road, and had a negative impression of the exact ďmagic carpetĒ type feeling you describe. So i got an SL from inventory without ABC. After driving it for 6 months on all kinds of roads I started to wonder about that decision. I test drove a car with ABC again and that smooth ride felt pretty good. If I had to do it over again I would probably go with the ABC.
As a potential new buyer here who will be buying a pre-owned 2017 model 450, would you say the ride is "harsh" without the ABC? I have only test drove for 5 minutes and it seemed fine to me - but as we all know 5 minutes aint nothin...
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Old 03-18-2019, 10:52 PM
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I had ABC on my 2004 SL500 and the car rode beautifully. Never once did I feel that the ride was too soft or at all billowy. Then, I bought a CPO 2013 SL550 without ABC. It had only 11,000 miles on it, 18” wheels and I put the cushiest Michelin non-run flat tires on it. I was terribly disappointed in the ride quality, so gorgeous a low mile car or not, I sold it and am now awaiting delivery of a new 2019 SL450 with ABC.

The current ABC system includes the “Curve” function, which makes the car slightly lean into curves like a motorcycle. I have that on my S560 Sedan and it is absolutely phenomenal! I can’t wait to experience it on the SL. As for test driving an SL450 with ABC, good luck. Virtually anyone willing to pop the $4K for ABC, will also want the V8. I believe my new 450 will be one of a mere handful ever produced with the option. Finding one in inventory somewhere, new or used, will be virtually impossible. Driving an SL550 with ABC will be easier, but the two cars drive much differently to begin with, so I’m not sure it will be a good comparison.

As for reliability & repair issues, the vast majority of complaints come from R230 owners. The system has been updated and improved since those cars were built, to the point where I feel it should be quite dependable, especially if properly maintained, which many R230 owners—who didn’t even know their cars had such sophisticated suspensions—failed to do, once their warranties ran out and they started taking their cars to Jiffy Lube.

Go for ABC. You only live once.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Dino333 View Post
As a potential new buyer here who will be buying a pre-owned 2017 model 450, would you say the ride is "harsh" without the ABC? I have only test drove for 5 minutes and it seemed fine to me - but as we all know 5 minutes aint nothin...
No, absolutely not harsh. Drive the car over bumpy roads, over parking lot aprons, etc. If you are pleased with it, you are pleased with it. To me, the 450 rides so much nicer than the 550. However, if you ever drive an SL with ABC, your car without it will seem completely different and thoughts of ordering a new one with ABC will be popping into your daydreams.
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Old 03-18-2019, 11:56 PM
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Well, there are two 2019 SL450s with ABC right now in Newport Beach, but that probably doesn’t help the members in Virginia or Texas very much.
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by allfortheunion View Post
Well, there are two 2019 SL450s with ABC right now in Newport Beach, but that probably doesnít help the members in Virginia or Texas very much.
Iím amazed! And I LIVE in Newport Beach! Oh well, never say ďnever!Ē
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Streamliner View Post
Iím amazed! And I LIVE in Newport Beach! Oh well, never say ďnever!Ē
Just curious - Have you had any problems with that dealership that caused you to order your SL elsewhere?
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Old 03-19-2019, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by allfortheunion View Post
Just curious - Have you had any problems with that dealership that caused you to order your SL elsewhere?
I assume you are speaking of Fletcher Jones Motorcars MB and the short answer is yes. I have personally had problems there and have heard horror stories. Setting foot on the lot is like entering a lionís den, as you are descended upon by hoards of cheezy salesmen, who know so little about the cars, Iím embarrassed for them. Itís a great place for folks who donít care about getting a good deal and like getting pushed and prodded into taking whatís on the lot.
With Foothill Ranch and Laguna Niguel only 20 minutes away, the choice to pass up FJMC was an easy one for me. That said, if the next closest dealer was in San Diego, Iíd drive there. I donít like FJMC.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:30 AM
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ABC

We have ABC on our 2018 S560 and 2017 SL550 - absolutely love both. Obviously, 2 totally different ride experiences but would never order a car again without it. I know it's cliche, but it really does feel like your riding on rails when you do any turning.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:43 AM
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PHSWOOD - this is off the topic of ABC, but if you are ordering I highly recommend the Exclusive Nappa Leather option if you are not getting it already. The Nappa leather is much softer and noticably higher quality than standard, and the Exclusive option gives you full Nappa leather dashboard and door panels (instead of MBTex) and a full Alcantara headliner. It really makes for a luxurious cabin and is well worth the $1900. It may be the top option as far as value for cost.

Last edited by allfortheunion; 03-19-2019 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by allfortheunion View Post
PHSWOOD - this is off the topic of ABC, but if you are ordering I highly recommend the Exclusive Nappa Leather option if you are not getting it already. The Nappa leather is much softer and noticably higher quality than standard, and the Exclusive option gives you full Nappa leather dashboard and door panels (instead of MBTex) and a full Alcantara headliner. It really makes for a luxurious cabin and is well worth the $1900. It may be the top option as far as value for cost.
+1
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:12 PM
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I would also encourage you to drive a 550, if you haven't already, before ordering. It's true many forum members and auto reviewers prefer the 450 for a variety of very valid reasons - value, handling, etc. The 450 has enough power most of the time and the 550 has more than you will need most of the time. But stepping on the gas on a straightaway in the 550 will bring an extra smile to most faces, and when you need to enter a freeway on-ramp from a full stop, and the ramp is short and even uphill, the 550 will get you to speed without any effort at all, and with power to spare.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:24 PM
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SL 550 without ABC rides like a 'potato wagon". Emphatically, get ABC.
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Old 03-19-2019, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by docsout View Post
SL 550 without ABC rides like a 'potato wagon". Emphatically, get ABC.
It is my opinion that one of the main reasons that the R231 did not sell nearly as well as the R230, was the change of having ABC as standard, to a $4K+ option. Most car buyers just go to one or two dealers, test drive what is on the lot and buy one. They have no idea what is available to order and would never wait 8 to 12 weeks for a special order. So, convertible buyers went and test drove an SL without ABC, didn't like it and bought a Porsche or some other car that they found more comfortable. Those who went looking for a convertible in the R230 era, drove an SL and thought "WOW! This is wonderful!" MB nickel & dimed the R231. It was never supposed to be cheap. They should have kept ABC standard and improved the car whenever possible, but they didn't. Shame on them.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by allfortheunion View Post
I would also encourage you to drive a 550, if you haven't already, before ordering. It's true many forum members and auto reviewers prefer the 450 for a variety of very valid reasons - value, handling, etc. The 450 has enough power most of the time and the 550 has more than you will need most of the time. But stepping on the gas on a straightaway in the 550 will bring an extra smile to most faces, and when you need to enter a freeway on-ramp from a full stop, and the ramp is short and even uphill, the 550 will get you to speed without any effort at all, and with power to spare.
Agreed, the SL550 and AMGs give an effortless driving feel and the torque is out of this world!
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Keon View Post
Agreed, the SL550 and AMGs give an effortless driving feel and the torque is out of this world!
Agreed, the SL550 is a rocket ship. That said, one needs to determine for themselves what is most important. To me, it is the ride and driving characteristics. I would tromp on my SL550 every now and then, but the instances were few and far between. So, this time I went for the SL450, as I like the light-on-its-toes feeling and the crisp handling, more that the blistering acceleration. And when I realized that the car I liked better was almost $20K less, but IDENTICAL in virtually every other respect to the V8 model, that was just the icing on the cake for me.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by allfortheunion View Post
I would also encourage you to drive a 550, if you haven't already, before ordering. It's true many forum members and auto reviewers prefer the 450 for a variety of very valid reasons - value, handling, etc. The 450 has enough power most of the time and the 550 has more than you will need most of the time. But stepping on the gas on a straightaway in the 550 will bring an extra smile to most faces, and when you need to enter a freeway on-ramp from a full stop, and the ramp is short and even uphill, the 550 will get you to speed without any effort at all, and with power to spare.
Agreed and I think in my search for a 2018 model with ABC- one would be more apt to find a good pre-owned 550
with ABC than a 450.
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Old 03-19-2019, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Dino333 View Post
Agreed and I think in my search for a 2018 model with ABC- one would be more apt to find a good pre-owned 550
with ABC than a 450.
Odds are probably 1,000 to one of finding an SL 550 with ABC vs a 450, maybe higher.
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Old 03-19-2019, 10:13 PM
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I'm glad that ABC, and many other options are standard in Canada!
The interesting thing about Canadian cars are that they come with more equipment, less individual options, and most options are in packages or trim levels. It makes buying cars much, much easier.
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Old 03-20-2019, 12:59 AM
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Agree to everything said about ABC and have probably written same in hundreds of posts.
An extremely enjoyable ride and a supreme cruiser.

One of of the best benefits for anyone considering leasing a new one is the great discounts on the lease and the high residuals (just like the S-class used to have).

If the next generation SL replaces the current S-class coupe and is build by AMG, chances are high that these discounts will end as those vehicles have non-subvented rates (aka 2 to 3 times the MF).
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Old 03-21-2019, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Dino333 View Post
As a potential new buyer here who will be buying a pre-owned 2017 model 450, would you say the ride is "harsh" without the ABC? ............................
yes...
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Old 03-21-2019, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
Agree to everything said about ABC and have probably written same in hundreds of posts.
An extremely enjoyable ride and a supreme cruiser.

.
What he said........
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