Harris Helps Us Understand Negative Torque with Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Test

As is most often the case when a manufacturer announces a revolutionary new car, it is viewed with doubt, disbelief and trepidation. Trigger-happy motoring hacks around the world await for the first signs of trouble so that they can fire off a series of articles and follow-ups aimed at dissecting the problem over and over again.

However, there’s nothing bad to write about the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell thus far, so we can stand back and take it all in with our minds unbound by negative projections.

Chris Harris was lucky enough to recently drive the all-electric all-wheel drive SLS, and he really seemed to enjoy his time with the car, which is actually a different (purpose-built) vehicle altogether underneath. The battery pack is placed in the “center spine” of the chassis, which is all-carbon fiber, and with the body off, the difference between this and the V8 is plain to see.

In addition, instead of having one big lump behind the front axle, the E-Cell has four independent electric motors, which in Chris Harris’ hands translated into Nissan GT-R levels of grip, traction and agility. The engines make a total of 740 (750 PS) and 1,000 Nm (737.5 lb-ft), which is split equally among the four wheels in normal driving conditions.

The fact that it is electrically-powered and that all four motors work independently of one another translates into instant wheel control, and very advanced torque vectoring characteristics. The German engineers were also able to make the motors produce “negative torque”, which basically twists the inside wheels back, while the outside wheels get full power, as the vehicle goes around a corner. This aids with cornering tremendously, the car looks surprisingly nimble for its massive weight, and more importantly, it never seems unsettled.

That’s also down to the fact that most of its weight is concentrated around the battery pack, which is centrally-mounted, and placed as low as possible. Just like with the Tesla Model S, these performance-oriented EVs seem to have extremely low centers of gravity – an aspect future variations of this and other similar vehicles will exploit even more.

By Andrei Nedelea


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