• CLS 500 and Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 on a mountain road in southern Spain. In the background, the sun fades away behind the pine trees.

    A road trip across Europe: CLS, E-Class Coupé and SLC 43.

    A photoshoot road trip across Europe, from Stuttgart to Spain.

    Mercedes-AMG SLC 43:
    Fuel consumption combined: 7.8 l/100 km;
    combined CO₂ emissions: 178 g/km.2
    Photos and text: Marcus Hoffmann

A massive tour through Europe.

The sun is at its highest point in the sky and so neither trees nor the abandoned ruins of a former residential area provide any form of shade. Photography in the desert can be dangerously trying on the body. No place in Europe is drier and hotter than the Tabernas desert in southern Spain. As unpleasant as the scene may sound, it does offer up some splendid photos and is one of the main backdrops for Marcus Hoffmann’s planned model shoot. Together with his team, they will drive themselves to the location, during which they will cover a grand total of 2,500 kilometres and cross through 6 countries – right across Europe. The three-vehicle convoy will see an E-Class Coupé, a Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 and a CLS start off in Stuttgart.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé and model Anna Ponsa Lopez in the rocky, mountainous coastal region of southern Spain.
The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 Roadster is parked with its roof open in front of an immense mountainous backdrop in the Rhône-Alps.

High mountains – the Rhône-Alps and Mont Blanc.

Crossing Switzerland went much quicker than anticipated. The sight of Lake Geneva was truly impressive but not enough to warrant a quick stop. The team’s final destination is clear: once around Mont Blanc – and then back through the middle of it. Before Europe's highest mountain and the longest tunnel in all of Europe are tackled, the team has to resist a stop off at iconic winter sports destinations like Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. But it’s not just the touristy and historical edifices dating back to the 18th century which drew the team to Chamonix, rather also the symbolic nature of the place. Directly beneath the Mont Blanc massive, looking towards the south, there’s no sky or sun to be seen, just a rock face and a whole lot of clouds. This is the heart of French Alpine sports and the starting point of many a big adventure.

The highest Alpine pass – the Col de l’Iseran.

The info instrument shows the rapidly increasing altitude and the simultaneous drop in the outside temperature. Between every other hairpin, it’s time for a quick glance at the current temperature and then a look at the sky. No clouds and a dry road: the perfect conditions for the vehicles’ summer tyres. Further to the east and lower down, the Stelvio Pass has a metre of fresh snow since the day before yesterday. The Col de l’Iseran which the convoy has to cross is 2,764 metres high and is thus the highest drivable mountain pass in Europe. The road is almost entirely empty, traffic in the other direction amounts to just a few sparse vehicles. In a few days, the pass will close for the entire winter.

The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 parked in front of a mountainous valley in the High Alps. A rocky landscape, and not a single tree or bush in sight. Just asphalt and rock.
  • The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 stands proudly in the High Alps next to a huge boulder which found its final resting place on the edge of the road.

Fashionable curves – the Maritime Alps and Monaco.

Change of scenery – the Côte d'Azur: While fashion bloggers Giulia Carla Beskid and Marcus stop off in Monaco for business obligations, the rest of the team takes both of the two-door vehicles further into the Maritime Alps. Innumerable snaking roads barely wider than the vehicles themselves take them on a journey of discovery to distant mountain villages. The CLS also has to tackle the tight roads to the entrance of the hotel in Monte Carlo’s Port Hercules.

360° cameras are fitted in all vehicles and even in the slow-moving traffic, it’s a good idea to leave them permanently switched on. While the CLS avoids colliding with other Mercedes-Benz and Paganis, the SLC and E-Class Coupé are now 30 km away attempting to avoid rock faces and buildings from the Middle Ages – in some cases, it’s just a matter of centimetres which separate them.

The Côte d’Azur and the Pyrenees.

The subsequent transition across the south of France and Spain leads the team through the Pyrenees and on to Andalusia, whilst also serving as a reminder of just how different the various landscapes are. Within the team, the first unanimous opinion of the vehicles is formed: DISTRONIC Plus is the most useful feature when you have 1,500 kilometres of motorway to cover.

The destination is ever closer: Almeria, Spain. One of the most arid places in all of Europe. Particularly in summer, this place offers the perfect conditions to discover new stars. The Max Planck Institute has the biggest reflector telescope in Western Europe atop the Calar-Alto. 70 km to the south and 2,168 metres lower is the Michelin testing ground where development engineers test the dust-proofing and rough road characteristics of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The E-Class Coupé in full swing on the motorway. The landscape of the Côte d'Azur turns into a blurry, distant vision.
The CLS 500 on a disused road in the middle of the rocky Tabernas desert. Close by, the E-Class Coupé and SLC can be seen in the background.

Stars and dry air – the Tabernas desert.

Between the testing ground and the mountains is the Tabernas desert. A totally surreal area which is completely different from the typical Spanish topography. It’s completely normal that the surroundings seem familiar to almost everyone, even though hardly any of the team are familiar with the actual location itself. The windows of the E-Class Coupé are wide open and the Burmester sound system plays out the first sounds of Ennio Morricones “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. A longer look and you notice that the presumed camp site on the horizon becomes an Indian village with a Western town adjoining it. Here, at the high times of Western films, there were as many as 16 of these film scene towns. Over 60 % of all films of the genre were filmed in these valleys. Here, it looks more like the Wild West than Nevada or Utah do. The fashion photoshoot can begin.