2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, a real shocker: Motoramic Drives
When you’re told you will be driving an electric car around a racetrack, seldom do you get excited. It’s not that you won’t have fun – driving a Nissan Leaf on-track is enjoyable – but you’d rather be driving something with more power than your typical airport rental. At the Paul Ricard circuit, in southern France, I had the chance to drive an electric race car, the $522,000, 740-hp Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, also known as the fastest production EV in the world.
As we arrived at the track, we were ushered into a decked-out pit lane garage, with cut-away cars showcasing technology, and a beverage station against the back wall. Immediately a blue glow, glistening in the Mediterranean sun, caught my attention.
Peering out of the garage, I saw a Mercedes SLS garnished in the most eye-catching, over-the-top, ghastly chrome blue coloring. Next to it was an equally flamboyant aluminous yellow version. The Day-Glo colors typically not seen on vehicles outside Sir Elton John's garage are just the beginning of what make these cars unlike anything else in the world.
The SLS stands as Mercedes’ flagship model, boasting super-car performance, aggressive styling, and a price tag fitting only the wealthiest of speed freaks; when you add AMG to the title, these attributes only heighten. Unlike other supercars, these were attached to 22kW power outlets, readying for a select group to sample their revolutionary bite.
What makes them incredible? For starters, they have four electric motors – each powering a separate wheel, a unique set-up in the world of electric cars. This makes the SLS Electric all-wheel drive, but its benefits run deeper. By powering the wheels independently, with magnet synchronous motors, the torque can flow precisely to each corner. A button on the center console chooses between three settings: Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. Comfort is the least aggressive, leaving the car with a healthy chunk of understeer. Sport provides more power to the outside wheels during cornering to create a neutral balance, whereas Sport Plus delivers the most aggressive torque vectoring, turning the car into a tire-smoking drift-machine.
As I readied to climb into the bright yellow gullwing, an AMG engineer read the spec sheet out: “740 horsepower, 738 foot-pounds of torque, zero to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. This is the most technologically advanced electric vehicle ever made,” he said. “With today’s capabilities, you cannot achieve more.”
Color me intrigued.
As I fastened my seat belt and adjusted the seat position, the AMG engineer jumped in the passenger seat. He began explaining how closely they worked with the Mercedes Formula One engineers, given their experience with batteries used in the team’s KERS system.