11 miles - 318 turns - 360 hp
11 miles is a good 17 kilometers. With 318 bends, this makes a bend every 53 meters. In other words, the steering wheel is never actually straight for more than a few seconds. The “Tail of the Dragon” presses you permanently into the transverse dynamics. Straight? You can have that elsewhere. Here in the Appalachian Mountains between North Carolina and Tennessee, a narrow strip of asphalt winds furiously through the woods. During our road trip #mbrt15From Alabama to New York, these 11 miles were breathtaking and sweaty.
Our escape car on this day is a Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG. At Mercedes one speaks of a sporty “compact SUV”. The fact is, under the sheet metal is the sharp technology of the sportiest “A” in the Stuttgart performance alphabet. As the GLA, the ground clearance was increased, and as the GLA AMG, the air was immediately let out of the wheel arches. Does it make sense? Everyone can decide for themselves. Here between the Smokey Mountains and the Cherokee Reservation, the somewhat coarser ground clearance of the Sports SUV goes very well with the rough banking of the route. At 6:30 in the morning we weren't aware of that yet. One thing was clear: the day will be good.
For the trip over the “Tail of the Dragon” without a ticket, we recommend the time before the donut shops open. Then the cops are also missing on the track. Who before read on the Internet, he goes on the road trip with a lot of respect. You are vaccinated well there. It is all too easy for the “getaway” to become a long-term meeting with radar pistols.
When 360 PS tramps off, then whimper sometimes the front wheels. Sure, that GLA 45 AMG has the Mercedes 4-matic all-wheel drive. Due to the design as a “hang-on system” without pressure accumulator or electronically pre-regulated load distribution, a little slip is always necessary on the front axle before the rear wheels can get to work. If the currently most powerful turbo four-cylinder wants to punch its joie de vivre in the form of 450 Nm into the asphalt, then the front wheels come under pressure for a short time. Let the rim spin or give the asphalt a tire tattoo?
As soon as the rear axle has made sure to take the initiative as quickly as possible in this case, the GLA 45 AMG vigorously heaves itself out of the starting block. No matter where. Even on a lonely country road in the “Smokey Mountains”. Much smoke about nothing? No - the slip remains minimal, hardly any smoke, the name of this mountain region is not the fault of the Stuttgart boost pressure journeyman.
Riot and make-up. We were on the “Tail of the Dragon” with two GLA 45 AMG. Our black copy was given the rough warpath make-up from the unbelievable depths of the AMG price list, presumably out of respect for the Cherokee Indians, whose reservation is just around the corner. The red GLA 45 AMG was - just because it was red, hardly more subtle - but without the insignia of half-strong rockabilly riders.
Both have the dry delivered driving fun combined. Did I say, a compact SUV athlete with suspension is completely feeble-minded? I was wrong. The partly twisting asphalt band with the bankings of a pasta pot made the GLA 45 AMG the perfect choice. A little higher than the A45 AMG, good for front spoiler and carbon pinball, but deep and taut enough to jump from curve radius to corner radius under heavy boost pressure.
No cops, no traffic tickets. This is one of the rare experiences at the “Tail of the Dragon”, one believes in the many reports on the Internet. But we managed to do it completely without the cultural exchange of discussions about the driving experience regulations. The top tip? One thing is clear: shift into second, third and fourth gear as soon as the sun rises. The GLA 45 AMG offers seven gears from the double clutch box, but shaft four is never engaged on the 11 miles. And four is already daring. Seriously.
It's not about arriving. It's about driving. This is no different on the "Tail of the Dragon" than on others Road trips. Driving, feeling the lateral dynamics, feel the road, even like to get the limit in sight. At least a little. Only until wave number four.
If I giggled wildly at the look of the GLA 45 AMG, the black one with a plastic rump at the rear, a smile manifests itself behind the three-spoke leather rudder during the Dragon attack, but a serious one. Content. Fulfilled. The chassis of the GLA 45 AMG is extremely well tuned. The Crosshatch willingly throws itself from bend to bend. The brake? The caliper has to put up with obtrusive red lipstick. Looks sportier. But nothing changes the effect, we all know. The brake generally looks a bit doughy, if you concentrate on the pressure point, you won't find it.
Antidote? Workaround? Harder ran!
Pressure. Point. Holding. Point. The “dragon tail” gives you more than a dozen chances to place the brake pads neatly and jagged on the discs. Hard in. The pressure point? Oh, let the ABS find the pressure point. A blink of an eye later, again at full boost, the game goes 11 miles long. If so, if you followed the most important advice for this tour!
Start before sunrise. Don't wait for the first coffee stops. Find a quiet place to start, then go into yourself. At “little Tallassee” you can take a breather, right on the water.
Concentrate on the basics. Do not be distracted by the red belts of the GLA 45 AMG. Do not think about where you could tweak the rough sports stalls of the GLA 45 AMG later. Do not worry about the traction.
Okay - the basic price of the GLA 45 AMG in Germany could briefly disrupt concentration - look at the water, distract yourself. That's right, Edition 1 of the GLA 45 AMG really cost € 63.250. Lot of money. Even if you get the strongest two-liter turbo on the market. If you only have to take 0 seconds for the 100 to 4,6 sprints.
Now concentrate. On the driving pleasure!
I was allowed to do the "Tail of the Dragon" during our #mbrt15 Experience tour from Alabama to New York. And it was a breathtaking experience. The route through the Apallachen is an extraordinary route for the US. The landscape sometimes spooky, but wonderful.
GETAWAY - The trip in detail[tabgroup] [tab title = ”Map - street map”] [/ tab] [tab title = ”Details”]
- Ideal starting point: Maryville, TN
- Goal: Topton, NC
- Route length: 109 km
- Time factor: One morning with a break at the “Tail of the Dragon Roadhouse”
- Getaway fun factor: 4 out of 5 stars!
More about #mbrt15 coming soon, here in the blog!