Mercedes AMG recently set the first sub-8 minute production electric vehicle lap time around the Nurburgring with their SLS Electric Drive. Check out Chris Harris’s review for all the details on the car. This is the on-board footage of the lap. It’s interesting to note that the gauge on the right side is not a tachometer. The electric motors only have one gear so you can tell how fast their spinning based on the car’s speed displayed in the left gauge. The other gauge displays power output in what I’m guessing is percentage. 100% probably marks the maximum continuous output with the ability to burst above that for a little while. The power gauge also has a negative section going counter-clockwise from 9 o’clock to 6 o’clock to represent power recovered by regenerative braking. The regenerative portion of the gauge is definitely in a different scale because if they were getting 50% of the max output during regeneration it would make the car lurch a lot more than it is. You can also see that the regeneration gets maxed out when the driver lets off the “throttle” without hitting the brakes. The regeneration torque was probably set up to mimic engine braking torque of a combustion engine.
Motor Trend’s Johnny Lieberman takes us on a tour of the Mercedes-Benz Unimog museum in Gaggenau Germany. You can really tell that the Unimog is something he’s been passionate about as he explains what makes it so iconic and details the historically significant exhibits in the museum. Johnny also gets to drive some modern Unimogs on the museum’s proving grounds to show off some of their absolutely mind-boggling capabilities.
**EDIT** May 18th, 2013: Here is an additional video from the Daimler Automotive Group of the Unimog assembly line in Woerth as well as some additional proving grounds footage:
Chris Harris issued an interesting challenge at the end of his review of the electric Renault Twizy last year. The Twizy is essentially a beefed up electric golf cart made for city commuting. Harris reviewed the car and found it competent but boring despite of the fact that he was able to get it to drift. He then ended the video with some fast driving in one of Renault’s hot hatchbacks because he felt his viewers expected more excitement. That led him to pose a question/challenge of “The Twizy has slightly put the writing on the wall for me. If I’ve got to test electric cars and generate exciting content for you guys to watch, how the hell do I do it if the thing makes no noise and doesn’t do much? I’m kind of out of a job.” He then asked for people to post suggestions.
It probably didn’t happen this way, but I like picturing somebody at AMG tweeting Harris and telling him to try their 750 horsepower SLS Electric Drive (most powerful AMG built to date) if he wanted help generating exciting electric content. Either way, I’m glad Chris got the chance to drive the car and tell us what it’s like. The SLS Electric Drive looks like the standard SLS AMG (if you don’t count the chrome blue paint job), but the actual body in white has been changed to accommodate the battery pack which lives in the center of the car. The front suspension was also changed to make room for the front drive axles. Each wheel has its own independent drive motor. Electronic control does the job of traditional differentials as well as providing advanced torque vectoring thanks to the ability to generate instant negative torque (like braking) of the electric motors. Harris ends up saying the car’s ability to change chassis balance with the torque vectoring is actually more interesting than the fact that it’s electrically driven. Chris marvels at the car’s ability to apply the tires’ maximum grip on the wet track and then has a blast drifting the car with the torque vectoring shut off.
Thanks to AMG for making a car that proves that electric performance isn’t an impossible concept. If Chris Harris can be convinced of it, then maybe there’s hope for the rest of the gearheads out there, too.
Csaba Csere of CAR and DRIVER got to tag along with the CEO and Head of Development of AMG as they worked on the new 2014 E63 AMG. The E-Series is receiving a pretty extensive mid-cycle refresh next year with the E63 AMG getting the most drastic changes. Not only was this a preview of what was to come on the new car, we also get an inside look at AMG’s history and the way they work. The new car is moving to all wheel drive with a performance variant of the Mercedes-Benz 4matic system. Instead of adapting the regular 4matic E-series systems, the AMG guys specified their own 30/70 front/rear torque split and custom front suspension geometry. They have the freedom to change whatever they need to achieve a balanced performance chassis that can also be daily driven. You can see what they’re doing is working in the shots of the car hustling through the course at El Toro airfield. The new E63 AMG is definitely going to mix it up in the sport luxury category when it goes on sale late next year.