By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business
Mercedes’ AMG performance division is most famous for making hand-built gasoline engines, but times are changing and electric motors are the new thing. Mercedes just unveiled its latest AMG model, the Mercedes-AMG EQE, a fully electric high-perfomance mid-size sedan.
With two high-output electric motors engineered specifically for AMG — one motor for the front wheels and one for the back wheels — the Mercedes-AMG will be able to produce up to 677 horsepower when properly equipped.
This performance model is based on the electric Mercedes EQE sedan that was revealed in the fall. Like other Mercedes EQ models, it’s not a modified version of one of Mercedes’ gasoline-powered cars, but is built from a specific electric-only engineering platform. Since there’s no need to hold a gasoline engine under the hood, the EQE has a shorter hood than a gas-powered E-class and an overall more rounded shape.
Since this electric AMG model won’t have the brand’s signature engine burble, dramatic sounds will be produced from speakers inside and outside the car. The interior sounds will vary depending on the mode the car is in and the way it’s being driven, varying from a quiet hum to an aggressive rumble overlaid with jet sounds. There will also be a special “event sound” that plays as the car is locked. At night, the headlights will project animated patterns as the car is opened and closed.
With electric motors generating large amounts of power with relative ease compared to gasoline engines, and the high price of batteries, the market for electric performance cars is already hot. With the Tesla Model S Plaid rocketing to highway speeds in two seconds, under ideal conditions, and automakers offering quick zero-emissions cars like the Porsche Taycan Turbo and Audi RS e-Tron GT, the Mercedes debuts as the latest battery-powered high-horsepower luxury car. It joins the even more powerful Mercedes-AMG EQS, a larger car capable of producing as much as 751 horsepower in a short burst
When equipped with an optional Dynamic Plus package, the AMG EQE’s motors can briefly produce up to 677 horsepower in a Race Start acceleration mode that takes the car from zero to 60 miles an hour in an estimated 3.2 seconds. Otherwise, the motors’ maximum output is 617 horsepower when driving in Sport+ mode. (That’s also the maximum output in versions not equipped with the Dynamic Plus package.) That’s more than double the horsepower of the more mainstream Mercedes EQE 350 electric car.
Mercedes-AMG’s gasoline-powered cars also have all-wheel-drive, but the EQE’s two-motor all-wheel-drive system allows for more precise control of the power going to the front or back wheels, according to Mercedes. Power distrubution will be more even in Comfort mode for greater efficiency but, in Sport modes, more power will be sent to the back wheels.
Four-wheel steering will be standard on the AMG EQE. With this system, the car’s back wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels at low speeds allowing for tighter turns. At speeds above 37 miles an hour, all four wheels turn in the same direction for smoother lane changes. Automatically adjustable suspension will allow for a smoother ride or firmer control depending on the driving mode and situation. The car will also ride lower to the ground in Sport modes or when driving at very high speeds.
It will be available with Mercedes’ so-called “Hyperscreen,” which covers the entire dashboard in a glass sheet that makes the entire area, from one side to the other, look as if it’s one giant touchscreen. Actually, though, there are three separate screens underneath.
The Mercedes-AMG EQE will go on sale early next year, the automaker said. The price of the car has not yet been announced.
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