Little things with big effect
2 February 2021 | Mark Hoogewerf
Right, so you drive a nice Mercedes. An AMG if you’re lucky. Let’s say it’s an E-Class, no, even better, a CLS 55 AMG with some 500 horses under the hood.
It’s an automatic, of course. That gearbox can handle the horsepower and torque with ease. But if you doing a spirited drive, and want to shift manually, there is a problem: those shift buttons on the back of the steering wheel that look, feel and sound like a 1990’s game controller.
You can’t find the button when the redline’s approaching. You accidentally change gear when gripping the wheel. It kinda spoiled the experience of blasting around in my 2005 CLS 55 AMG.
Paddles to go
And then I came across this: paddle shifters that mount in the place of the clickety clack stock buttons. I think it’s the only decent product available on the market. (No, I’m not affiliated in any way with the manufacturer. It just felt right to write about this positive experience.)
And soon this little box appeared from the nice folks of G Paddles from the UK.
Upon first look and feel, the new paddles are light but sturdy; well-made and finished in a nice silver.
Installation is fairly easy. Basically: pry out the original button holders, remove the old buttons and insert the G Paddles, press the holders back in, and you’re done.
Since the CLS is an older car, there’s a little more to it. To prevent breaking the brittle with age button holders, you have to heat up the plastic to soften it. Be sure to distinguish between the left and right paddle, or your hands will be holding the 08:20 position when shifting. Fumble and push each paddle in its designated position, feel relieved if everything is crack-less. Do this two times. Carefully re-insert the holders while guiding the wires. And you’re really done.
Let’s find out what these babies do…
The G Paddles look like they were installed by Mercedes-Benz when the car was brand new. So that’s a nice start.
All right. Transmission in Manual mode… Suspension in Sports mode… And off we go. Shifting up, shifting down. Very nice!
Compared to the old buttons, the paddle operation feels totally different, feels properly sporty. Yeah, now the shifting feels how it’s supposed to be, like the German muscle car the CLS actually is.
So these G Paddles, these simple pieces of well-engineered silver plastic completely transform the driving experience of my beloved fast Mercedes.
Sometimes it’s the little things, indeed.