by Teymur Madjderey
As general automotive enthusiasts we're always on the lookout for the latest innovations and opportunities to experience them firsthand, whether it be speaking with the design team at Bentley or testing Mini's new sport utility coupe in the Caribbean. So when Mercedes-Benz gave us a call to drive the latest iteration of its truly magnificent SLS AMG Gullwing we didn't think twice. As icing on the cake the program took place at the Paul Ricard high tech test track.
Once off the plane in Marseille we found ourselves in the legendary pits of the great modern racetrack. While the architecture and design alone would be worth a whole story, we were there to focus on the single task at hand, and thankfully for us the German muscle was waiting in all its glory. Once the novelty of the new, even more hardcore Black Series version with its flared wheel arches, carbon-fiber wings and titanium exhaust wore off we caught a closer look at the other SLS, one wrapped in shiny blue chrome drawing all attention to itself.
Unable to take our eyes off it we noticed that the badge read "Electric Drive". Yes, a Gullwing that runs on electrons. Just as we were nervous that the 6.2 liter-terror wouldn't produce the glorious V8-bellow from the tailpipes that we hoped for, the fact sheet reassured us of its power with 552kW and a whopping 1000Nm. Not only does this make the SLS AMG E-Cell the most powerful Gullwing ever, but it's the world's fastest electrically-powered vehicle, flying to 60mph in under four seconds. The top speed however, is limited to 155mph. We were desperately curious to hear the sounds made by the electric engine, real or dubbed, so we made this short video to share our findings.
Power comes from four electric motors. Their axial arrangement enable Mercedes' engineers to distribute torque individually for each wheel. This means maximum performance while accelerating out of corners. And boy does it work. Sure, the battery pack adds some weight—548kg to be precise—but it's only a small drawback in our eyes. On full boost (or volts?) the electric gullwing immediately rips off your face. And it's not the power alone, it's the response—producing an astonishing immediacy after stepping on the accelerator of the likes we've never before experienced.
All that power doesn't come cheap—€416,500 is quite an investment—but regardless of cost it will be available soon from your nearest Mercedes-Benz dealer. While Mercedes-Benz claims that the electric range oft he lithium-ion-cells would be 155 miles if you drive carefully, the onboard-computer told us some other figures out on the track—after a couple of hot laps we were understandably back in the pits feeding the Electric Drive with its 400V wall-box. But as the boys of Metallica said, "fuel is pumping engines"—no matter what fuel it is.
Images by Teymur Madjderey