Video: Top Gear Falls For The Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive


Top Gear has run afoul of electric car fans before, but host Jeremy Clarkson positively charged about the performance of the Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive. In a competition of one Mercedes supercar vs. another, the all-electric one comes out on top, albeit with an expensive asterisk.

In previous video segments, Top Gear has been accused by Tesla Motors of slandering their electric Roadster, and other videos have not portrayed EVs or hybrids in what you might call a favorable light, even though Top Gear itself has “gone green” as it were. But those vehicles were all boring, pedestrian cars. The Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive is a 740 horsepower supercar fitted with a Formula One suspension and some of the most advanced EV technology in the world.

This all comes at an enormous price, of course, and as Clarkson shows, using that power liberally results in a battery that depletes at a frantic pace. Still, it’s a joy watching the soundless electric supercar leave its gas-powered competitor in the dust.

It’s a metaphor for the future leaving the past behind, come to life in the form of Mercedes supercars driven by a man who’s finally warming up to electric vehicles.

Source: Top Gear

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • QKodiak

    The Tesla Roadster is the one that started it all back in 2008. At the time, the Tesla Roadster was the first great EV to ever hit the streets. The 2009 Sport version was capable of hitting 0-60 in just 3.7 sec., faster than the 2009 Ferrari 430 and the same as the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo. It also had a range of up to 245 miles when driven carefully. The Roadster lacks the top end grunt that the E-Cell has because of the small air-cooled 14,000 rpm motor with 300 hp. Nevertheless, utilizing the top end grunt on most any sports car is illegal pretty much everywhere anyway, making high top speeds irrelevant and possibly dangerous to your health, wallet, and criminal record.

    The fact that Tesla created a MUCH longer range, quicker sports car back in 2009 shows that Tesla is the best at creating EVs, not Mercedes. Imagine if Tesla made another supercar right now. Look up the Rimac Concept One, and you’ll get the idea. The E-Cell is a fantastic car and should be built for the same price as the already stratospherically priced SLS AMG Black Series to spur on sales. Also, upgrade the batteries for something that has more capacity to make it more usable.

    • Tesla is partially owned by Mercedes. That’s the same tech in the SLS, so … yeah. Not sure what to make of the rest of this.

      • QKodiak

        Mercedes specifically stated that Tesla had nothing to do with the production of the E-Cell. So no. It’s not Tesla tech. If it were, it would probably have a 200+ mile range. Tesla doesn’t believe in short range EVs.

        • I didn’t see where they said that, so you may be right- but that doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. As for range, stated range on the SLS is 155 miles. TopGear’s statement is at WOT.

          Do you think a Tesla Model S goes 200 miles at WOT/top speed?

          • QKodiak

            Here’s Car & Driver’s test drive of it. After 60 miles of “sharply” driving 60 miles, they had 30% capacity remaining. If it was driven on a track, it would achieve fewer due to regen braking being used less. And 155 miles is not a long range at all.

            Of course the Model S doesn’t achieve max range when driven at top speed. The Bugatti Veyron has a 12 min. duration near its top speed: about 50 mile range.

            Some of the video reviews of the E-Cell mention that Tesla had nothing to do with the E-Cell development.

            The Mercedes E-Cell is a fantastic supercar that needs to cost less and utilize better batteries for a longer range.

  • Allen Grim

    The Tesla was far from “boring and pedestrian”. The guys started out loving them. But after running them just a little bit and having them break down constantly they changed their tune and got hammered for letting that cat out of the bag.

    • Uh-oh. Someone thinks TopGear is a news show, and not a sitcom.

  • Rowland Williams

    Once battery life catches up with performance, the age of the ICE is over.

    • Maybe- how long do you think you can hammer an ICE around a racetrack at full tilt boogie before it runs out of gas? Minutes, man. Minutes.

      • Rowland Williams

        Probably! But battery tech is pretty fluid right now. I’ll give you my perspective: I’ve used an electric wheelchair since I was 16. (I’m 53 now.) Two motors. 8MPH. Can go about three days on a charge, 10-15 miles. I know, different weight, different speed, etc. But battery tech has been stalled for a very long time, and a lot of inputs have the potential (in fact, the likelihood) to slingshot current distances within 5-10 years; add the move toward affordable carbon fiber to reduce weight, and the changes we’re about to witness per distance is going to be like the growth we witnessed in computer memory storage.

        FYI: I love the smell and rumble of ICEs. But electric makes more sense for the environment, for repair bills (electric motors just don’t break), for lower cost driving.

        • I don’t think it’s a fact that battery tech has stalled. “Stalled” implies it was being developed at all- and, beyond Optima and Exide (for example), for 40-ish years, it wasn’t.

          In the 15 years since Toyota launched the Prius and Honda launched the first Insight, we have come a long, long way, baby.

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