The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is the German company’s biggest bet for a so-called halo car, something that will cement the image of Mercedes as a performance-oriented automaker, not just a luxury inclined one.
Judging from the great reactions coming from the general media and from the consumers, the model achieved its role, successfully replacing the older Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
But don’t go thinking that the SLS AMG will just stick to being a Mercedes supercar and nothing more, as the German company has just revealed the first prototype of its electric supercar, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell.
The new model, while based on the regular, internal combustion-powered SLS, is quite a different type of beast (and we’re not talking just about the off-the-wall color either).
Gone is the massive 6.2-liter V8 engine, capable of 563 horse power, being replaced with a set of four electric motors. While this change might make purists unhappy, the performance of the electric SLS won’t suffer greatly, as the four units are capable of pushing out a very impressive 526 HP.
Also, seeing as how we’re talking about electric motors, the massive torque rating, 649 lb-ft to be exact, is available as soon as you put your foot down the accelerator pedal and up to the impressive 12,000 rpm redline.
Surprisingly, the aluminum spaceframe chassis of the SLS AMG wasn’t subjected to a lot of changes for the new powertrain, retaining much of its strengths and ensuring the same great handling. Better yet, the lack of the bulky front engine means a better weight management. The biggest change was made to the front suspension setup, with the double wishbone assembly from the regular SLS being replaced, due to size concerns, with a multi-link setup, featuring pushrod damper struts.
A lower center of gravity for the car is also ensured, as the battery pack sits on both sides of the center tunnel, and also in a box behind the cockpit. It is joined by two ventilation systems. They ensure an optimum temperature for the 480 kW battery pack, cooling or heating when necessary, depending on the climate.
The four motors rest on each axle, not in the wheel hubs themselves, but as close to them as possible. While they will power the SLS AMG E-Cell to dizzying speeds for an electric vehicle, the stopping will be taken care of the ceramic braking system, optional for the regular SLS supercar.
The lack of AMG’s 6.2-liter V8 also allowed the engineers to optimize the aerodynamics of the SLS E-Cell. A new front apron helps the airflow under the car, while a retractable front spoiler extends when speeds of over 75 mph are reached. This assembly works in tandem with the enlarged rear diffuser, which doesn’t have to allow space for any pesky exhaust pipes.
Besides the aerodynamic improvements, the exterior remains largely the same as the regular SLS AMG. LED daytime running lights were added in the front, while a wider radiator grille completes the front fascia. A set of forged, 10-spoke wheels were fitted, measuring 19 inches at the front and 20 inches at the rear. Of course, the biggest aspect of the exterior design is the color, dubbed “AMG lumilectric magno,” now officially the coolest color name in the world.
As you can imagine, the electronics on the inside have also been optimized for the new powertrain, as a bigger (10-inch) LCD touchscreen lets the driver know the state of the battery pack and its charge level. Other information about the car is also displayed. For an untrained eye, it might even pass as the interior for a regular SLS, as no other high tech gadgets are featured.
For the moment, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell is just a working prototype. According to some, it will be making its way onto production in a limited series around 2014. Around the same time, other electric concepts like the Audi e-tron, the Porsche 918 Spyder or BMW’s hybrid EfficientDynamics might also appear.