Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive review

  • Most powerful production Mercedes ever
  • 740bhp and 738lb ft of torque
  • Priced from €416,500; not officially sold in Britain
Read the full Mercedes-Benz SLS review
Read the full Mercedes-Benz SLS review
The Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive is enough to convince even the most steadfast electric car cynic that battery power doesn't have to be boring.

Powered by four individual motors – which together develop a mighty 740bhp – it's not only the most powerful road-going electric car in history, but the most powerful production Mercedes ever, too.

Officially, the Electric Drive won't be sold in the UK, but Mercedes will do all it can to assist you if you want to import one. That's hardly surprisingly, really, given the car's eye-watering price of €416,500 (around £360,000).

What's the 2013 Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive like to drive?
A 0-62mph time of 3.9 seconds means the SLS Electric Drive is as quick as a Lamborghini Gallardo, and that's despite it weighing as much as a BMW X5 and having only one gear.

Even more impressive than the car's outright pace, though, is the way it delivers its power. Maximum torque is available from the instant you hit the accelerator and there's no let-up as it hurtles you towards an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

The experience is made even more surreal by fact that all this happens in near-silent conditions. That said, if you do want some noise to add to the drama, you can switch on the 'SLS eSound' system, which plays unusual bassy frequencies through the 11-speaker stereo as you accelerate and brake.

Read the full Mercedes-Benz SLS review

With a half-tonne battery on board, it's hardly surprising that the Electric Drive isn't quite as nimble as a regular V8-powered SLS. However, thanks to a clever Torque Dynamics system, it's still remarkably agile – especially in 'Sport Plus' mode. The clever on-board computer varies the amount of power sent to each individual wheel to maximise traction and keep the car better balanced through corners.

Switching to 'Comfort' makes the steering lighter and limits power output to increase the car's range. In this mode, the Electric Drive has a theoretical maximum range of 155 miles, which is pretty remarkable by electric car standards – even though Mercedes admits 125 miles is a more realistic target.

What's the 2013 Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive like inside?
Once you've managed to limbo under the hugely impractical gullwing doors and into the heavily bolstered AMG sports seats, the Electric Drive looks and feels very much like a regular SLS.

There are one or two notable differences, though: the rev counter has been replaced with a display that gives you information about power output and the level of charge in the battery.

Read the full Mercedes-Benz SLS review

The Comand infotainment system has also been modified to give more detailed information about the energy flow from and to the battery pack, and the display can also chart how efficient your driving has been.

The steering wheel-mounted paddles from the standard SLS remain, but since they aren't needed for gearchanges, they've been reconfigured to adjust the regenerative braking system.

Charging the monstrous 60kW battery takes around 20 hours from a domestic plug socket, although the optional high-voltage 'wall box' cuts this to around three hours.

Should I buy one?
The SLS Electric Drive hasn't been designed to save the planet; it's been built to showcase the pinnacle of electric car technology, and it does this in spectacular fashion.

Read the full Mercedes-Benz SLS review

True, it's ultimately no faster than a regular SLS, has a much shorter range and costs nearly twice as much to buy. Nevertheless, if you have a few hundred thousand pounds just lying around and want the ultimate toy, the Electric Drive is undoubtedly it.

Rivals:
Audi R8 E-tron
Tesla Roadster

Read the full Mercedes-Benz SLS (standard car) review >>



Specification
Engine size Four synchronous electric motors
Price from €416,500 (around £360,000)
Power 740bhp
Torque 738lb ft
0-60mph 3.9 seconds
Top speed 155mph (limited)
Maximum range 155 miles
CO2 0g/km

By Will Nightingale
 
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