The Mercedes EQ Silver Arrow could have easily become the second all-electric Maybach. After all, it is every bit as lavish and extroverted as Mercedes-Benz chief design officer Gorden Wagener’s 2017 Pebble Beach effort, the open-top e-power Maybach 6.
But while the 6 paid homage to the marque’s grand pre-war tourers and cabriolets, the EQ Silver Arrow—revealed Friday evening at a Mercedes event at Pebble—is a tribute to Mercedes’ most extreme ultra low-drag single-seat race car, the historic W125. The W125 in 1937 established a 268-mph world speed record on a German Autobahn that held until last year. While its ancestor was powered by a compressor-driven 5.2-liter V-12, the wildest EQ creation to date boasts a bunch of electric motors good for an aggregate 550kW (737 hp). The 2018 EQ Silver Arrow is very nearly street legal, sporting full-width head- and taillights and a variety of driver aids.
This Pebble Beach concept is in all probability a one-off eye-catcher to demonstrate the potential of the newly founded EQ division. The driver sits at the center of the experience. The shape of the tall rollover protection fin is a mix of vintage Le Mans and modern Formula 1. Access to the driver’s seat is via a front-hinged canopy. From behind, the Mercedes looks like the Batmobile reinvented.
The minimalistic front wings stretch over and around the bespoke 255/25R-24 Pirellis, the rubber laser-etched with a three-pointed-star tread pattern. The rear multi-spoke alloys are shod with even meatier 305/25R-26 tires. To smooth the airflow, the rose metallic wheels are covered by flush semicircular body-color elements attached to the Rolls-Royce-style fixed-center hubs. The car’s carbon-fiber chassis is a monocoque in the purest sense of the word; the flat-bottom triangular shape is just wide enough for the single-seat cockpit with all the modern conveniences.
Mercedes claims there is ample leg- and shoulder-room for the driver who is secured by a four-point harness. The leather-covered seat is fixed, but the power-operated pedal box can be moved. While the Alubeam paint is matched to perfection by the brushed aluminum interior trim, the solid walnut-with-pinstripe-inlay on the floor is a bit of an oddity.
From the driver’s point of view, the instrumentation of the ultimate Mercedes EQ is positively space age. The main display is a curved panorama screen that also serves as canvas for a 3D projector positioned close to the driver’s head. This high-definition, full-color system knows all the tricks, is driver programmable, keeps an eye on traffic, and has several specific (futuristic) talents like lane guidance for inductive charging.
Thanks to a generous helping of equally futuristic artificial intelligence, the EQ Silver Arrow can also stage a race against historic or current silver arrows, showing the car’s position versus its competitor on a given circuit. Hit the Virtual Race Coach button, and an invisible co-driver will talk you through one lap after the other, doing its best to improve your skill. A large touchscreen on the square steering wheel hub is the key interface between driver and machine.
There are three basic modes to choose from: Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus. The choice of background music played by the sound generator includes the dulcet tones of Lewis Hamilton’s W09 F1 car, and pre-war factory racer Rudolf Caracciola’s SSKL. The 737-hp output comes from dual electric motors backed by an 80-kWh battery pack. The combination is good for a claimed 250 miles of silent yet inspired cruising, on the European cycle.
If size matters, the EQ Silver Arrow has its bases covered: it’s the world’s longest single-seater, measuring 208.6 inches from tip to toe, or 1.7 inches longer than today’s S560 sedan. At a mere 39.37 inches tall, however, it could cruise under most toll barriers without even ruffling the driver’s hair. Put in perspective, the distance between the front axle and the pedal box exceeds the total length of a Smart ForTwo. Amazingly enough, the batteries, motors, and performance electronics are cooled by air sucked in through various black intakes. The only weather protection for the driver is a low, heavily swept windshield—and the mandatory crash helmet. Integrated in the trailing edge of the roadster is a finned diffuser and two active spoilers that also act as air brakes.
“Eight decades ago, the silver arrows pioneered the era of ultra high-speed motor cars,” says Wagener. “Today, we pay tribute to these incredible machines with the EQ Silver Arrow. Its key missions are unrivalled performance, ultimate driving pleasure, progressive luxury, and the seamless fusion of digital and analogue styling elements. Furthermore, the Pebble Beach concept lets you catch a glimpse of the unique form language Mercedes is preparing for the all-electric EQ family of cars.”
Though this new concept may show us Mercedes’ future design language, aside from the single-seat layout, there are many impractical realities to a production EQ Silver Arrow. No roof, no place for luggage, and no creature comforts are three clear indications that the Benz that could have been a Maybach is bound to remain a one-off. But we know for a fact AMG has completed the preliminary feasibility work on an all-electric car in this space, so the idea of a high-speed, all-electric super cruiser halo car is still alive and kicking in the zone between Untertürkheim and Affalterbach.