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SL-Class (R231) 2013 on: Discussion on the SL550

ABC on SL but ABC on E450?

 
Old 05-17-2019, 07:39 PM
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ABC on SL but ABC on E450?

Hi All,

I have ABC on the SL550 and love it, do not have ABC (air) on my current E300 and don't have issues w/o it

BUT

Ordering a 2020 E450 now and want opinions for getting ABC (air) on the new E450

If anyone has ABC on their SL and has ABC (air) on their E I'd love to hear from you as to why to gt or not to get ABC (air on the new E450.

If it makes a difference in your responses I presently have the (DG1) AMG line version (not luxury) with (677) Lowered suspension with selective damping on the current E and if I don't get ABC will go with same options

Thoughts??

Last edited by steve sl550; 05-17-2019 at 07:45 PM. Reason: mistake
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:20 PM
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I have R231 SL550 without ABC and do not miss it (had it in R230) and W213 E450 with ABC and do not see much (if any) advantage having it. Also, and it is speculation on my part since did not research it more, but strictly based on ABC's option price for both, R231 SL550 and W213 E450 can not possible have the "same" ABC.

Update: R231 ABC has CURVE function, while W213 ABC does not. Hence double the price. If I had to build E450, I would not have selected (half-a**) "ABC".

Last edited by threeMBs; 05-17-2019 at 08:28 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by steve sl550 View Post
Hi All,

I have ABC on the SL550 and love it, do not have ABC (air) on my current E300 and don't have issues w/o it

BUT

Ordering a 2020 E450 now and want opinions for getting ABC (air) on the new E450

If anyone has ABC on their SL and has ABC (air) on their E I'd love to hear from you as to why to gt or not to get ABC (air on the new E450.

If it makes a difference in your responses I presently have the (DG1) AMG line version (not luxury) with (677) Lowered suspension with selective damping on the current E and if I don't get ABC will go with same options

Thoughts??

The E450 does not comes with ABC, even though the acronyms match. ABC on the SL (Active Body Control) is a fully active suspension. It is based on high-pressure hydraulics. The best suspension Mercedes makes.
The E-Class can be optioned with Air Body Control (which is Airmatic to most), which is a semi-active Air suspension. I consider that a requirement in any Mercedes sedan where ABC/MBC is not available.
I don't think you would find a single review of a Mercedes sedan (E or S) where the air suspension isn't mentioned. It is what makes the Mercedes ride...

Springs are inferior in any way. This includes the SL IMHO.

Last edited by Wolfman; 05-17-2019 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:36 PM
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Nonsense, spring suspension systems on the E450 are just fine. The spring suspension system is way more reliable than the ABC or Airmatic. They're very expensive to maintain when out of warranty. Average of $3000 to $8000. I've had the system on many a car and found them more to be an expense than anything else. A lot depends on whether you plan on keeping car long term or short. They are both costly to repair if something goes bad (and there are just as many Airmatic as ABC issues), end of story.

The spring suspension on the E450 is excellent and rides quite smooth and comfortably over bumps and road anomalies. You find posts and youtubes on "How to Convert the Air Suspension on Mercedes-Benz Airmatic to Coil Springs" because people were fed up with them. Unless you have need to raise your car because of road or driveway lips, the extra expense of the system is not worth it IMO.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:40 PM
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The Op already has a 2017 E300 on springs and is asking questions about replacing his 3 year old car. My assumption is that he is interested of how the car rides from day one not how he will have all these assumed issues many plus years from now.
Pretty tiresome to read all these complains about the issues on cars that are 8-20 years. Out of date stuff...
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Old 05-18-2019, 01:02 AM
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I find this discussion highly informative as I have settled on getting an SL- maybe a new 450 or a depreciated 550 or 63- most are slow selling and I have found a few models with ABC. I have a 2015 S550 with Air suspension (Airmatic) and it really works great on such a heavy car. But ABC I know is a different animal- but is it 'Invoked" by a button to turn on and off? If your doing spirited drives through twisty hilly roads- is that when you "use" ABC - Since ABC is for smoothness and "comfort" is it more for straight ahead Interstate driving or for backroad haulin? Since the SL is obviously a lot less weight than the S550 Coupe- dont know if it is really needed? Thanks for any enlightenment SOOO many more choices without ABC of course. The other thing about Springs is that I am assuming it is easier to have a 450/550 lowered? The SL 450/550 (Not the 63) really needs a 1/2" to 3/4 inch lowering and assuming that with ABC is more difficult or cant be done? Oh one last one is the ABC on the SL 450/550 the Same as SL 63?

Last edited by Dino333; 05-18-2019 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by steve sl550 View Post
Hi All,

I have ABC on the SL550 and love it, do not have ABC (air) on my current E300 and don't have issues w/o it

BUT

Ordering a 2020 E450 now and want opinions for getting ABC (air) on the new E450

If anyone has ABC on their SL and has ABC (air) on their E I'd love to hear from you as to why to gt or not to get ABC (air on the new E450.

If it makes a difference in your responses I presently have the (DG1) AMG line version (not luxury) with (677) Lowered suspension with selective damping on the current E and if I don't get ABC will go with same options

Thoughts??
We have a 2018 E400 wagon with air - it’s a smooth comfortable ride and i wouldn’t have it any other way.
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Dino333 View Post
I find this discussion highly informative as I have settled on getting an SL- maybe a new 450 or a depreciated 550 or 63- most are slow selling and I have found a few models with ABC. I have a 2015 S550 with Air suspension (Airmatic) and it really works great on such a heavy car. But ABC I know is a different animal- but is it 'Invoked" by a button to turn on and off? If your doing spirited drives through twisty hilly roads- is that when you "use" ABC - Since ABC is for smoothness and "comfort" is it more for straight ahead Interstate driving or for backroad haulin? Since the SL is obviously a lot less weight than the S550 Coupe- dont know if it is really needed? Thanks for any enlightenment SOOO many more choices without ABC of course. The other thing about Springs is that I am assuming it is easier to have a 450/550 lowered? The SL 450/550 (Not the 63) really needs a 1/2" to 3/4 inch lowering and assuming that with ABC is more difficult or cant be done? Oh one last one is the ABC on the SL 450/550 the Same as SL 63?
Another forum member (whoover) had a simple response to compare ABC and Armatic a while back. While not 100% relevant, it might help...

"ABC (Active Body Control) is only used on RWD S-class cars, where it's now called Magic Body Control. It's very different from Airmatic/Air Body Control systems like on our cars.

ABC is hydraulic and is fully active. Damping at each corner is constantly varied to deal with static factors (number of passengers, height settings, driver selection of handling characteristics, etc.) as well as dynamics (road surface and imperfections). You can think of it like noise-canceling headphones. As a wheel starts to respond to a dump or dip, servos apply an opposing force. Older ABC responds to bumps as they happen, while Magic Body Control responds to upcoming bumps by scanning the road ahead. It's a very complicated system, is very expensive to maintain but works amazingly well at making cars like the S65 exceedingly comfortable but reasonably well handling. The lack of body roll in an S65 is hard to believe for a car so big and heavy and the effect on ride comfort over real-world roads is obvious.

Other than complexity, the big negative for ABC/MBC is inability to support AWD. It was developed before AWD became so important and never upgraded. That's why most performance-tuned S-classes and our cars use the pneumatic Airmatic systems. Airmatic is only semi-active. It changes damping in stages, not continuously, and only for fairly static factors. That's why we can control firmness and change the car's level (or have the car do it automatically for certain reasons). It also manages body roll by using fairly simple and static means, like responding to yaw sensors. But it doesn't allow the continuously variable damping with millisecond latency needed to make roads seem unflawed.

An AWD fully active suspension would be an amazing advancement."


The SL's ABC doesn't have the MBC's camera look-ahead function but is technical identical. Also includes the curve function that leans the car into the curve like a motorcycle would. Lowering on ABC is typically easier as it is electronic. Airmatic now can be lowered in seconds without installing any hardware at all...

Both are superior to springs...
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:38 PM
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Let’s face it, there are folks out there who can feel, truly appreciate and highly value the very sophisticated Active Body Control (ABC) and Magic Body Control (MBC) suspensions, while others do not. We can all only know what is best for us.

Having owned many, high line, luxury and performance cars over the years, I have come to realize that ride quality is the one performance feature that makes or breaks the ownership experience for me. If a car accelerates like a rocket, but doesn’t have phenomenal ride quality, I’m not interested. For me, the best ride quality I have ever experienced in a big sedan, is with my 2018 S560 with MBC, 18” wheels and non-run flat tires. In a sports or GT car, that award will go to my 2019 SL450 with ABC, 19” wheels and currently still with the factory supplied run flat tires. I know. I am truly amazed at how comfortable my new SL is, still riding on RFT, but it is. I can’t wait to experience the car on non-RFT, but I’m still considering wheel & tire options.

After selling my 22,000 mile, 2004 SL500, with ABC, 18” wheels and STILL (I know, I know) riding on the original, 12 year old, non-run flat tires, I bought a CPO 2013 SL550, with only 11,000 miles, without ABC, riding on 18” wheels and new Michelin Pilot Sport A/S3+ non-RFT. The car was perfect in so many ways, but the absence of ABC was such a turn off for me, the ride quality SO inferior, that I sold the car and ordered the new 2019 SL450, with ABC, of course. The ride quality, to me, is DAY & NIGHT better in the new car over both the 2004 & the 2013 SL’s. I attribute 80% of the improvement to ABC and 20% to the lighter V6 sitting over the front wheels instead of the heavier V8.

I was thinking this yesterday as I was driving the new car: Even if the price was exactly the same for the SL550, SL63 & SL65, I would still take the SL450. This car, in my opinion, is just nothing short of phenomenal, in the way it drives, rides, handles. The comfort level is over the top. The seats in the Exclusive Nappa interior are amazingly comfortable and almost feel like they have their own “suspension.”

One can only choose what is appealing, affordable and important to them. To me, an admittedly “half glass empty” kind of guy, who is hyper critical of so many things having to do with what I drive, if the exact same SL450 was half the price without ABC, I’d still pop for the car with it. If you truly value comfort, amazing handling and the feeling that I can only describe as “luxurious engineering,” then I can not more highly recommend buying your next MB with MBC or ABC, if available.

One last note: My wife had a new 2004, E500 sedan with AirMatic. Her subsequent 2010 E350 & current 2016 E350 Luxury Sedans, which were not available with AirMatic, do not ride nearly as well as that 2004. If you appreciate it and can afford it, go for the most sophisticated suspension available on the MB model you choose. The seat of your pants will not regret it.

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Old 05-18-2019, 01:34 PM
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Is the ABC on the SL 450/550 the same as the ABC on the 63? Do they both have the curve function?
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Old 05-18-2019, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Dino333 View Post
Is the ABC on the SL 450/550 the same as the ABC on the 63? Do they both have the curve function?
They are technically the same only as the AMG is calibrated to be firmer with less body roll even if comfort setting.
I am actually not sure if the curve mode is available in the AMG as it is by design a “Comfort Plus” mode and as thus, not AMG like

Curve has has only been available for MY17 and up.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
The Op already has a 2017 E300 on springs and is asking questions about replacing his 3 year old car. My assumption is that he is interested of how the car rides from day one not how he will have all these assumed issues many plus years from now.
Pretty tiresome to read all these complains about the issues on cars that are 8-20 years. Out of date stuff...
OP says: "I'd love to hear from you as to why to gt or not to get ABC (air on the new E450)". He doesn't specify just ride. He already knows; he's had both. He wants to know reasons why or why not to have. Expensive maintenance is definitely a reason to consider. There are plenty of posters on this forum that keep their cars for longer periods of time than a few years or buy much older MB's. The are plenty who'd take issue with "out of date stuff". You invest in expensive options, you want too know if it's worth it.
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Old 05-18-2019, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by rustybear3 View Post
OP says: "I'd love to hear from you as to why to gt or not to get ABC (air on the new E450)". He doesn't specify just ride. He already knows; he's had both. He wants to know reasons why or why not to have. Expensive maintenance is definitely a reason to consider. There are plenty of posters on this forum that keep their cars for longer periods of time than a few years or buy much older MB's. The are plenty who'd take issue with "out of date stuff". You invest in expensive options, you want too know if it's worth it.
He's not had both. The SL has ABC, the E has springs so apparently he hasn't had Airmatic on the E. Please spend a bit more time reading

He is asking about opinions of the Airmatic in the E450. Do you actually think he is not asking about the ride when he is asking for opinions about a suspension (my assumption)?
Also, why would he ask about opinions of prior generation tech? It doesn't apply to that model. We have been there before; discussing prior generations of technologies is meaningless unless no improvements have been made. You are simply rehashing old stuff. That said, modern cars are inherently complex and in old cars (8 years later or so? ) failure of virtually any option or safety feature can cost a lot of money to fix in relation to the used car value. So you can apply the " be worried about expensive maintenance" comment to any option of your choosing; Distronic, blind-spot assist, ride leveling, pre-safe modules, Comand. None will be cheap to fix.

Btw, Airmatic is not an expensive option; it's $1900...

Last edited by Wolfman; 05-18-2019 at 07:13 PM.
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Old 05-18-2019, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
He's not had both. The SL has ABC, the E has springs so apparently he hasn't had Airmatic on the E. Please spend a bit more time reading

He is asking about opinions of the Airmatic in the E450. Do you actually think he is not asking about the ride when he is asking for opinions about a suspension (my assumption)?
Also, why would he ask about opinions of prior generation tech? It doesn't apply to that model. We have been there before; discussing prior generations of technologies is meaningless unless no improvements have been made. You are simply rehashing old stuff. That said, modern cars are inherently complex and in old cars (8 years later or so? ) failure of virtually any option or safety feature can cost a lot of money to fix in relation to the used car value. So you can apply the " be worried about expensive maintenance" comment to any option of your choosing; Distronic, blind-spot assist, ride leveling, pre-safe modules, Comand. None will be cheap to fix.

Btw, Airmatic is not an expensive option; it's $1900...
What part did you not understand that he has had both suspensions, abeit different cars? He's getting an E450 (which he hasn't had obviously) and wanted opinions from SL and E owners about the whys or why not. He never qualified or said "just ride". Of all the options to get that fail prematurely it is the ABC. The ABC system requires all of the components to function in unison in order for it to work properly. If one component is failing it creates a domino effect and puts more stress on the other components. This will significantly shorten the working life of the other components. The struts and hydraulic pumps haven't changed much and are prone to failures due to their complexities and being fragile. No so much a blind spot , HUD, or distronic option.

Now does the ABC ride comfortably? Yes it does; and rising and lowering can be handy. But heads above the MB spring suspension? NAW! To say the spring suspension is inferior is mendacious. Of course, these are just opinions, which is what the OP wanted.

Unlike you and your crystal ball , past experiences is all we have to go by. Brand new cars for the most part are trouble free for the first 3 years or so...after that....
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Old 05-18-2019, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by rustybear3 View Post
What part did you not understand that he has had both suspensions, abeit different cars?
Please elaborate for the OP...
I read:
R231 SL550 on ABC
W213 E300 on springs

Also, please describe your personal ownership experience with the R231 SL550 ABC (Active Body Control) or the W213 Airmatic (aka Air Body Control) for relevance..
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Old 05-18-2019, 08:40 PM
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All of these cars can be expensive to repair, especially if not properly maintained. So many of the R230 SL’s—all of which, at least in the in the USA had ABC standard—have now been through multiple owners and I would venture to guess that the vast majority have not had the ABC systems flushed, fluid replaced, etc. ABC is one of those systems that is out of sight/out of mind, until something goes wrong with it, so most DIY’rs and non enthusiasts who simply take the car to Jiffy Lube—if that—will relate horror stories when something ABC related leaves town. Like so many things, MB has constantly refined and improved the various ABC components, to the point where I feel they are virtually trouble free, IF properly maintained. These cars are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain and one must ascertain the level of expense they are comfortable with. As much as I love this new SL, I can truthfully say that if ABC had not been available, I would have gone with a new Porsche instead

I would like to tell prospective buyers to test drive a non-ABC car and a car with ABC, but good luck with that. Unless you live in a huge, metro area, finding an SL in dealer stock with ABC is virtually impossible.
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Old 05-18-2019, 11:11 PM
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All,

Thanks for the many responses.

As I have previously noted I presently have a 2018 SL550 with ABC (also had a 2015 with ABC), and would not have an SL w/o ABC.

Have 2017 E300 (last in a long line of E's) maybe 15 or more MBs over last 30+ yrs and still have a 1986 560SL I bought new in 1986 that has lived in a AC/Heated garage all it's life and presently has 31K mikes on the clock.

Also have had a 1965 Shelby continuation Cobra with original 427FE engine and have a Shelby continuation GT40 with original 427FE engine so have experience with "hard sprung" cars as well but, they are for a run through the country back roads or track ...not a daily driver.

The E300 is my daily business car and I have had a string of E's as business cars for yrs but as the 2017 is getting close to lease end I thought about a 450 replacement for the 300 after driving a 450 dealer loaner during some warranty work on the 300 (big difference in engine performance when tapped) and wondered if I'm missing something in ride as well as performance with the base Es.

Question was should I go for the "air" suspension vs springs for the new E and I was hoping for some subjective comments that compare the sprung E to "air" E.

Problem is I really didn't have issues with the E's spring suspension and could find no E car equipped with "air" to test as was suggested so was trying to get input.

Not even a question as to ABC for the SL (I ordered the 2015 with ABC because I ordered all options and ABC in the 2018 because I loved the ABC on the 2015 but, since have been in a # of SLs w/o ABC and no doubt it is a must ....esp since "curve" in the new ones...and I truly feel the difference in an SL w/o ABC.

Rode again today in my 2017 E300 and as I can not try an E with "air" (and I guess that is the only real way to decide) I think I'll stay with "springs" in the 2020 as I really don't have any complaint now BUT, I really appreciate all the responses.

FWIW and really surprising ...I took the 1986 560SL out today and IMHO the ride quality in the 1986 560 SL is still the benchmark for ride quality (not so much cornering but, ride straight on it is buttoned down and solid)....lots of power but, still solid and buttoned down.....a lot better than the E300 ....amazing!

So based on all above the new 2010 E will be pretty loaded but w/o "air" suspension.

THANKS again to all who responded, Steve
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Old 05-19-2019, 04:51 PM
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[QUOTE=steve sl550;7758825]All,
Thanks for the many responses.
FWIW and really surprising ...I took the 1986 560SL out today and IMHO the ride quality in the 1986 560 SL is still the benchmark for ride quality (not so much cornering but, ride straight on it is buttoned down and solid)....lots of power but, still solid and buttoned down.....a lot better than the E300 ....amazing!
/QUOTE]

I had a new 560SL in 1986 as well. Signal Red with Palomino leather. Wonderful car, for the era. I do recall that it drove very nicely, compared to the 1979 450SL I had before it.

Yesterday, I drove my wife’s 2016 E350 Luxury Sedan on a 60 mile round trip errand. Very good, competent car, but the ride quality is quite substandard compared to the 2004 E500 Luxury Sedan she had with AirMatic. We would have ordered AirMatic in both her 2010 E350 & this 2016, but it was unavailable. We will probably order her a new E450 Luxury Sedan, after the mid cycle face lift, hopefully with the new I6 and definitely with AirMatic.

Good luck with your new car!
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Old 05-21-2019, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by steve sl550 View Post
Hi All,

I have ABC on the SL550 and love it, do not have ABC (air) on my current E300 and don't have issues w/o it

BUT

Ordering a 2020 E450 now and want opinions for getting ABC (air) on the new E450

If anyone has ABC on their SL and has ABC (air) on their E I'd love to hear from you as to why to gt or not to get ABC (air on the new E450.

If it makes a difference in your responses I presently have the (DG1) AMG line version (not luxury) with (677) Lowered suspension with selective damping on the current E and if I don't get ABC will go with same options

Thoughts??
Have you tried posting in the E class thread - might get more answers.
This thread - people who don't have ABC will say it's not needed & people who do have it will say it's awesome.
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