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Auto blogSat, 16 Mar 2013
The recent Geneva Motor Show was a festival of hypercars, with the presence of not one, but three over-the-top debuts: the Lamborghini Veneno, McLaren P1 and Ferrari LeFerrari. The latter two have hitched their carbon fiber bumpers to the electrification bandwagon by using hybrid-electric powertrains not entirely unlike the propulsion systems we've come to know in cars like the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt. Does that mean the flow of electrons up the four-wheeled food chain will eventually consume our hallowed supercars? Not if AMG has anything to say about it.
AMG Director of Vehicle Development Tobias Moers recently confirmed that not only will there be a successor to the Mercedes-Benz performance division's SLS AMG, he notes that its internal combustion engine will most definitely not be sharing living quarters with an electric drivetrain. Instead, AMG plans to focus on further pushing the power and efficiency envelope of the internal combustion engine and advancing the use of lightweight materials to achieve their goals. The first example of this effort can be seen in the new SLS AMG Black Series that incorporates many weight-saving techniques to shed some 154 pounds from the SLS AMG GT (above), which itself is lighter than the standard SLS AMG.
Furthermore, Moers remarks that his company is happy to leave the hypercar segment to companies like Ferrari and McLaren. He admits that, "Ferrari in the hyper-car segment is still a different brand than AMG. We have to be honest..." So rather than taking the SLS further upmarket to do battle with bulls and stallions, Moers hinted that the next-generation SLS may be joined by another performance model that fits neatly between itself and the C63 AMG.
It's hard to not like the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT. The all-aluminum coupe is fitted with a wonderful naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 delivering 583 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Not only does the burly combustion engine launch the two-seater to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds, but it does so with one of the world's greatest exhaust soundtracks as it roars, burbles and cackles down the road.
But what happens when Mercedes-Benz takes away the V8 and its accompanying fire-burning song? Stripped of one of its most appealing assets, does the SLS lose its soul?
Chris Harris recently had the opportunity to take the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive for a track spin in Europe. Sans gasoline, but with four electric motors providing a combined 740 horsepower (737 pound-feet of torque), all-electric all-wheel drive coupe uses sophisticated torque vectoring and a multi-mode operating system to put oversteer - drifting! - back into the equation. Fun? You bet. See for yourself, below.
The wheel ranks right up there with the telescope and four-slice toaster in the pantheon of inventions that have moved humankind forward. But what if a circle in three dimensions had never occurred to anyone, and we all had just moved on without it? Perhaps we'd be driving around in Lucas Motors Landspeeders with anti-gravity engines. Or maybe we'd have the same cars we do today, just without wheels.
That's the thought experiment that seems to have led French photographer Renaud Marion to create his six-image series called Air Drive. The shots depict cars throughout many eras of motoring that look normal except for one thing: they have no wheels. The models used include a Jaguar XK120, Cadillac DeVille (shown above), Chevrolet El Camino and Camaro, and Mercedes-Benz SL and 300 roadsters.
Perhaps one day when our future becomes our past, you'll be able to walk the street and see with your own eyes the rust and patina of age on our nation's fleet of floating cars. Until then, Monsieur Marion's photographs will have to do.