Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive Supercar: First Drive Video

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Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

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It was a Mercedes-Benz icon before it became a performance flagship. Now it's a messenger for the future: the gullwing's going electric. The SLS AMG Electric Drive electric car is closing in on series production, converting the octane-addicted supercar to fit a greener vision of the future. 

We've told you before how we're green with envy over the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive--the all-electric version of Benz' fabulous gullwing sportscar.

Now we've had a brief drive in the South of France, at Circuit Paul Ricard, to confirm that it's the real thing--though Mercedes is still coy about the Electric Drive's future in the U.S.

The Electric Drive first was announced in 2010, and had been vying with an electric version of the Audi R8, the e-tron, to be the first pure electric supercar into series production. Mercedes insists its car will be the first, but it remains unclear whether the R8 e-tron concept will get a second revival--or if it would even be considered a supercar in Swabia.

If it weren't for the electric-green paint on the Electric Drive prototype offered up to Green Car Reports, it would take a moment to distinguish it from the gasoline-burning SLS AMG GT Black Series supercars sliding around a few hundred yards away on a separate loop at the Paul Ricard track. The Electric Drive powertrain sits easily in the signature shape from the past.

The technical transformation? Brutally complex.

Essentially, the SLS AMG is gutted and reformed entirely under the skin to accommodate a massive, 864-cell, 60 kilowatt-hour, 1208-pound lithium-ion battery pack running down the car's spine, along with a quartet of inboard electric motors checking in at about 100 pounds each. (Final curb weight: discreetly unpublished.)

The pack is liquid-cooled and shrouded in carbon fiber for what Mercedes says is "zero-intrusion" protection. The body structure's carbon-fiber too, with body panels hung from an aluminum space frame. It's a buffet of materials and a Ph.D. in materials engineering to integrate them.

Those electric motors handle more than the typical translation of electric power. There's one for each wheel, which enables what Mercedes dubs AMG Torque Dynamics. It's true torque vectoring--each motor can vary power to each wheel--and it's all-wheel drive of the highest order.

The complex of sensors for acceleration and yaw and braking give the marching orders, telling the motors to limit or increase energy, to moderate understeer and oversteer as the need arises and grip goes away.

Add electrohydraulic steering (not pure electric), a racing-style pushrod suspension (developed to accommodate the battery packaging), and carbon-ceramic friction brakes, as well as a layer of stability and traction control that backs up the torque-vectoring system, and the SLS AMG Electric Drive earns some supercar credentials of its own.

Power output is pegged at 740 horsepower, with 738 pound-feet of torque, and the official 0-60 mph estimate is 3.6 seconds, just a scant few tenths off the gas-powered car.

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Comments (5)
  1. Excellent video and article Marty.

  2. "It's true torque vectoring--each motor can vary power to each wheel--and it's all-wheel drive of the highest order."

    I love that... It would work great on a SUV as well for rock crawling with each motor individually modulated...

  3. first supercar? 4.4 0 to 60 on the model s and the tesla roadster 3.6 0 to 60 times i'd say that is super car speeds for sure 3.7 1991 BMW Nazca C2
    3.7 1996 Ferrari F 50
    3.7 1994 Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Jota
    3.7 1996 Porsche 911 GT2
    3.8 1997 Campagna T-Rex
    3.8 1992 Jaguar XJ220
    3.8 1996 Lamborghini Diablo SV
    3.8 1998 Lotus GT1
    3.8 1994 Ultima Spyder
    3.9 2003 Viper SRT/10 195 MPH
    3.9 1987 Ferrari F 40
    4.0 1993 Lamborghini Diablo SE30
    4.1 1990 BMW Nazca M12
    4.1 1993 Lamborghini Diablo VT
    4.1 1996 Lamborghini Diablo Roadster
    4.2 1994 TVR Cerbera
    4.2 1985 Vector W8 Twin Turbo
    4.3 1996 Bugatti EB112
    4.4 1988 Cizeta Moroder V16T
    4.4 1997 Dodge Viper GTS

  4. 4.4 1997 Gillet Vertigo
    4.4 1996 Mega Monté Carlo
    4.4 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo
    4.4 1996 Spectre R42
    4.4 1990 TVR Griffith
    4.4 1996 Vector Aeromotive
    4.4 2011 Ford Mustang shelby GT 500
    4.5 2012 Dodge Challenger 392 SRT8
    4.5 2003 z06 Corvette
    4.6 1996 Dodge Viper RT/10
    4.6 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 4dr Sedan
    4.6 1994 Ferrari F 512 M
    4.6 1996 Ferrari F 355 GTS
    4.6 1996 Ferrari F 355 Spider
    4.6 1982 Lamborghini Countach
    4.7 2011 Camaro SS
    4.7 1992 Aston Martin Vantage
    4.7 1996 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
    4.7 1997 Ferrari F 550 Maranello
    4.7 1985 Isdera Commendatore
    4.7 1996 Lotus Esprit S4S
    4.7 1997 Rinspeed Mono Ego
    4.8 1997 Chevrolet Corvette
    4.8 1996 Lotus Esprit V8
    4.8 1997 Panoz Roadster
    4.9 1994 Chaterham Seven HPC

  5. 4.9 1989 De Tomaso Guara
    4.9 1996 Ferrari F 355 Berlinetta
    4.9 1996 Ford Mustang Saleen S351
    that is a impressive list of what tesla's electric car/cars are quicker then if i might say so

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