Both Semmler and Feustel looked right at me and said I was exactly right. Then they pointed out the whys. First, though the 525-hp car is technically all-wheel-drive with the four Brusa electric motors from Switzerland, the power and 650 lb-ft of torque from zero rpm are forever 50/50 split right now and there is no fancy torque vectoring yet on board either fore-aft or side-to-side. In addition, the steering strategy is only now getting the attention it deserves and this is a very complicated bit in making sure the SLS E-Cell is a dynamics king among poseur plug-in princes.
So, I went with what I was handed. And Daimler/Mercedes/AMG and all others who entrust us supreme almighty know-it-alls with early prototypes are to be vigorously applauded and patted too hard on their backs. This is the best and most constructive way of developing a car for humans imaginable: use human dummies.
Then we hit the airport tarmac in between medivac and oil derrick helicopter take-offs and landings. First, big, hard accelerations for a kilometer or so, then a gripping slalom section on the way back to the nervous technicians. The striking thing here was the hurtling momentum in the midst of all the silence. The feeling is awesome awesomeness and thankfully the five-stage regenerative brakes work wonderful wonders in their turn. Thank the Nordic gods on that one.
Things were good on the slalom too, and that's not me just being an ambassador. The normal SLS can get squirrely in tight dynamics, the rear end flinging itself around a little too much from an over-eager throttle with all the chassis nannies switched off. Here, however, with the lower and greater weight, plus four-wheel drive of a sort, the slides are totally controllable and a letting-off of the go pedal wrangles things in really well without any braking usually. What I'm saying is that the normal SLS really would be well served by an ultra-sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.
Brake regeneration to the 324 Kokam lithium-ion battery cells happens via a new-thinking system. The SLS still has those anodized aluminum shift paddles at the steering wheel. Notice that? Well, no, they are not there to shift up and down through the single-speed gearbox. They're there for when you find your available battery energy falling below 90 percent and you are in a sailing or off-go-pedal situation. There are five stages and the dash lights indicate how many of these stages are available to you depending on your level of charge. You can accordingly "shift" up and down between these with the paddles. Cute, but I don't feel it really adds anything to the technology apart from a little involvement. Not evil, certainly, and the paddles are just sitting there anyway begging to be used.
Current range is 150km (93 miles) and the technicians are pushing hard for 200km+ (±125 miles). The three separate-but-equal 108-cells-per battery packs-one at your feet, one through the tunnel, one between you and the luggage-together take relatively normal amounts of time to recharge AC or DC. But the prototype didn't even yet have a cut in the panels for a plug-in point, so it's hard to address.
The guys on site at least said that the E-Cell SLS will make 100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration in a time that equals the normal SLS, 3.8 seconds or so. To 200 km/h (125 mph) they say it's currently at 11 seconds. And that's 4,585 pounds of curb weight, which number engineer Semmler insists upon getting to just below 2 tons by the time SLS E-Cells start leaving the production line.
Everyone insists, too, that these will be buyers' cars, not goofy leasers' toys.
Slammin' salmon. And we all discovered why the SLS E-Cell guys were so excited about the car's prospects in supercar-unfriendly Norway (at least 100 percent taxation over the price of the car). Turns out the money grubbing Norwegian governors let all electrics go tax-free! Could this make the SLS E-Cell a high-volume seller up here?