What’s this, a secret new Aston?
No, but it’s not a bad guess. This is, in fact, a high-quality makeover based on the Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG. Make that high-quality and expensive, because once you’ve forked out £100k for the base car, you’ll have to hand over a further $140,000 to get it looking like this. The result is the Fisker Tramonto, the name relating to company CEO Henrik Fisker who designed both the Aston Martin DB9 and BMW Z8. The reference points are clear – just check out that Aston-esque bonnet, and the slim Z8-inspired rear lights.
Who’s the target audience?
Fisker’s customers are either bored by the usual prestige marques, or put off by what they stand for. As Henrik Fisker explains: ‘Our buyers want something that no-one else has, so they can become part of creating a club and perception.’ Eleven cars out of a production run of 150 have been sold in the US so far and the UK now has its own distributor: The Car Finders, run by Chris Murphy and based in Manchester. Exclusivity is the name of the game here, so you’ll never pull up at the pumps next to another.
What’s involved in the conversion?
First the car is transported to Italian coachbuilders Stola. There everything bar the electronically operated roof is re-skinned or entirely replaced with new carbonfibre panels – making the car 60kg lighter in the process. It’s impressive too, the panel gaps being tight and the paint finish highly impressive thanks to a three-day stint in the spray booth. It’s also well thought out with the new bonnet working on its original latches, the parking sensors carried over into the revised front bumper and new heat cladding to keep the bonnet from soaking up too much heat.
How about the interior?
That’s all part of the $140,000 asking price. The idea is to offer every customer a bespoke package but, as a general rule, the underlying components – seats, door cards, dash, steering wheel – remain in place and all are re-covered in highly supple, beautifully stitched leather. So you get a very personalised package, but one that won’t flummox your local Mercedes dealership. If you want to go further, a 700bhp engine conversion is offered through Danish tuners Kleeman.
Where do I stand if something goes wrong?
Good news. Mercedes has agreed to honour the warranty on any Fisker Tramonto, meaning you can take it to any Mercedes-Benz dealership in the event of a failure related to the base car. What’s more, Fisker keeps a record of every car’s unique specification, meaning it can dispatch spare parts quickly in the event of any accidents.
So it looks good. How does it drive?
That’s where our test car – the only right-hand drive Fisker in existence – came unstuck. Clattering under-body trim (easily remedied after our shoot, we’re told) prevented us from venturing much above 60mph, so our chances of generating much in the way of driving impressions were impeded. We can tell you, however, that the lighter panels seemed to magnify stone chippings in the wheelarches, the over-sized wheels caused the steering wheel to tremor noticeably on smooth roads and the tip of one exhaust vibrated against the bumper idle. These niggles need to be eradicated to justify such a premium price.
The Tramonto is an impressive piece of work. The exclusive looks ensure it constantly turns heads, the quality of the craftsmanship is incredibly high and the alterations are well thought out, impacting little on day-to-day usability. The niggles previously mentioned do cause some concern, however, and we wonder just how quickly similar problems would be remedied on such a niche product. We also wonder at the asking price – around £170,000 is a lot of money for a re-bodied Mercedes SL55 – enough in fact for a Bentley Continental GTC, its running costs and a life of luxury. But exclusivity doesn’t come cheap and if you like the idea of the Tramonto, you’ll like the car.