What do a three-time Formula One champion, a 751-horsepower electric sports car, and a street-legal racer have in common? They’re all being used by Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division to tease a new performance model.
AMG has produced two short videos to create hype for the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, where it is expected to unveil a new supercar called Project One. The car will capitalize on Mercedes’ recent success in F1 by borrowing some racing technology, including a 1.6-liter turbocharged V6 engine used in actual F1 cars. As in F1, the V6 will get electric assistance. An electric motor will power the front axle, while the V6 will power the rear, with total system output in the neighborhood of 1,000 hp. Mercedes says the vehicle will boast a top speed exceeding 217 mph.
With a car that extreme waiting in the wings, AMG needed a pretty serious warmup act. Enter current Mercedes F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, a man fresh off a win at the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix, his 200th F1 race. He also tied the all-time record for pole positions, scoring his 68th at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit. Hamilton lathers praise on two very special vehicles in the clips, specifically the SLS AMG Electric Drive and the Mercedes-AMG GT R.
The bright yellow sports car Hamilton fawns over in the first video is almost as impressive as the man himself. It’s an all-electric version of the gull-winged SLS AMG first announced in 2012 and built in extremely limited numbers. Its four electric motors produced a combined 751 hp and 738 pound-feet of torque, getting this yellow submarine from 0 to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
The SLS AMG Electric Drive began its brief production run in 2013, and was never formally offered in the United States. With an eye-watering price of roughly $550,000, there probably wouldn’t have been many takers anyway.
The GT R is significantly less rare, but with a nickname like “The Beast of the Green Hell,” the Hulk-like coupe is no slouch. The car managed to lap the famed Nordschleife Nurburgring in just 7:10.92, which is faster than the Ferrari 488 GTB and the Lexus LFA. It’s essentially a race car tweaked to become road legal, but through Mercedes-AMG’s adroit applications of technology, the car is perfectly livable under the right settings.
The Project One, in contrast, will make the SLS and GT R look ordinary. Reports so far claim a price of $2.5 million, and the delicate F1 engine will need to be rebuilt every 31,000 miles. Mercedes reportedly plans to make just 275 copies, and deliver them to customers by 2020.
In that same time frame, the Aston Martin Valkyrie and McLaren BP23 should appear, challenging the Project One for supercar supremacy. It should be an interesting couple of years.
Update: We’ve added new details about Mercedes-AMG’s Project One and included the brand’s second anticipatory video.
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