First Look: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell Prototype

An extended front apron aids airflow under the body, and Mercedes has also added an extendable front splitter. It acts in parallel with the rear spoiler, extending downward three inches above 75 mph. Air travels faster under the car as a result and reaches a more dramatically angled diffuser -- thanks to the absence of an exhaust system -- that increases rear downforce.

The driver can control the splitter through buttons on the driver-focused AMG Drive Unit, which also houses the start button, rear spoiler control, and new park, reverse, and drive buttons. Additions to the interior include an AMG instrument cluster with displays for speed, charge status, and estimated range. A revised center console features a ten-inch touch screen infotainment system, which operates audio, climate, and navigation functions. The screen also displays the flow of power from the four electric motors. The upholstery is a black-and-white mix of leather and Alcantara on the seats, steering wheel, door linings, and center console.

The E-Cell boasts its electric prowess with "AMG lumilectric magno" paint (judges also would've also accepted "Wilson tennis ball"). Other exterior additions include LED headlamps with daytime driving lights, a wider radiator grille also with transverse slats, revised air outlets on the hood, and matte black accents where the standard SLS shows chrome or silver. The ten-spoke wheels are staggered 19-inch front and 20-inch rear, wearing 265/35 and 295/30 rubber, respectively.

While the E-Cell is a driving prototype -- we'll have our at-the-wheel impressions up shortly -- there is still plenty of development work to be done, so specs on range and cost remain to be known. Concrete production details are also to be determined, but expect the E-Cell to be a low volume vehicle. What is promising, though, is the potential for the supercar to live on without gasoline. That, and of course there's always the natural future comparison between the E-Cell and the Porsche 918 Spyder.

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