Mercedes SLS Electric Drive

7 Mar, 2013 11:00am Michael Taylor

The Mercedes SLS Electric Drive delivers 730bhp and costs £333,000

Verdict

4
The SLS Electric Drive is more than an SLS stuffed with batteries – it’s the result of years of hard work to show what’s possible with electric cars. Straight line performance is incredible, throttle response is electric, but it’s the cornering abilities – thanks to each independently driven wheel – that really sets it apart. If you can stomach the price tag, live with it being left-hand-drive only and put up with the limited range, the SLS Electric drive is actually more rewarding to drive than the standard car – minus the V8 rumble, of course.

The Tesla Roadster pioneered the all-electric sports car segment, but things have moved on and Mercedes now rules the roost. The SLS Electric Drive isn’t just the most powerful electric road car ever – with 730bhp and 1,000Nm of torque it puts even the 622bhp SLS Black Series to shame. But can it deliver the same raw thrills as the petrol-powered model?

Based on our short drive, the electric version of the SLS takes everything the V8-powered models can do in a corner and moves the game so far forward that the conventional car seems like yesterday’s technology.

The straight-line performance from the four-electric motors is completely addictive, too: bury the throttle and you’re launched from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds (three-tenths down on the SLS Black Series). But, rather than delivering the brutal accelerative assault of the Black Series, it feels oddly, serenely quick. You step on the throttle and it jumps ahead instantly before settling into a constant surge that shows no signs of stopping.

When it comes to slowing down, you'll be using the brakes less than you think. Using the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel you can decide on the level of regenerative braking, and on the top level there’s so much speed being converted in to battery power that you’ll rarely need to touch the brake pedal.

In the corners the SLS Electric Drive is astonishing. Plenty of cars can brake each wheel with precision depending on the traction available, but this is the only one that can accelerate each wheel the same way.

It takes some familiarisation, but on the track, you could take the SLS and slide it into corners with outrageous enthusiasm, only for the tyres to find bite where other cars would find none.

There are flaws, though. The much-vaunted synthesised noise feature isn’t really loud enough, nor is it perfectly paired to acceleration and speed. Then there’s the range, which officially stands at 155 miles, but even Mercedes admits that 125 miles is more realistic. Oh, and without the optional quick-charger it’ll take 20 hours to charge from a domestic socket (with the quick-charger it takes three hours).

Even so, this is a brilliant piece of engineering that could very well change the way we see electric cars forever.

Disqus - noscript

Impressive stuff, however I'd buy a car that powerful for the sound of that V12 engine roar not for the almost silent hum of a hybrid.

It's an electric car, not a hybrid, so no petrol engine and emissions.

It's easily the best electric car ever atm but once again brings up the current impracticality of the current technology. A future successful electric car will need a lighter and more practical motor system.

I think Hydrogen cars will hold the better future than electrics.

I stand corrected. Just can't beat the sound of a proper petrol engine. The electric or hybrid cars at Goodwood festival of speed got boo'ed when they set off up the hill!

Key specs

  • Price: £330,000 (est)
  • Engine: Four wheel-mounted electric motors
  • Power: 730bhp
  • Transmission: Single-ratio four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 3.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Range: 155 miles
  • CO2: 0g/km
  • Equipment: Sound synthesizer, 19-inch alloys (front), 20-inch alloys (rear), air-con
  • On sale: Summer 2013
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