TopGear.com27 September 2012

Mercedes announces electric SLS

And it’s faster than the 6.2-litre V8 version…

Mercedes SLS Electric Drive

"The world's most powerful series production electric car." That's how Mercedes-Benz is describing its fancy new SLS Electric Drive. Blimey. So how on earth has it managed that? Cleverness. And being a bit German...

Underneath the familial bodywork, the ‘leccy SLS has a special driveline of four synchronous electric motors driving each individual wheel, giving it permanent four-wheel drive. The four motors, which weigh 45kg apiece, whisk up a total of 740bhp and 738lb ft of torque. That's 177bhp and 259lb ft (TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY NINE!) more than the 6.2-litre fossil burner.

To put the power down MB's given the ED two separate gearboxes that power each axle directly. Alongside it, there's a fancy AMG Torque Dynamics system that selects which wheels need the most drive depending on traction. Along with the monstrous motors, this means it'll squirm from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds (0.1 seconds slower than the V8).

Funding the motors is a liquid-cooled 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack (MB's British arm, High Performance Engines helped develop it with AMG, as it goes). It weighs 548kg and it's stuffed in the transmission tunnel down the centre of the cabin, and behind the seats where you'd ordinarily find the fuel tank

You'll have to wait 20 hours per charge, mind. That said, there is an optional wall box, which provides a 22kW quick charge function, filling the stores in three hours. The battery also gets a top-up when you're braking and coasting, and in the SLS you can choose how much is recuperated.

So, those batteries. Heavy, aren't they? To make up for the mass, MB's made the car out of aluminium and carbonfibre and fitted a set of 402mm/360mm carbon ceramic brakes. We haven't got any word on whether the car's lighter or heavier than standard, though.

The front suspension's also been redesigned to account for the newly driven wheels - there's a pushrod system with horizontally mounted dampers and springs. The old steering's also been binned and replaced by a speed-sensitive electro-hydraulic system.

How much does it cost, then? €416,500 (£330,972) when it goes on sale next year. That's £162,547 more than standard...

But what of the noise? That glorious funny-firing-order V8 jackhammer? Well, there's a "Power" button that activates a sound designed for "each driving situation" that's played through 11 speakers tucked around the cabin.

What noise do you think the world's most powerful electric car should make, TopGear.commers?

Now read our first drive of the prototype

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