Mercedes-Benz dazzles in L.A. with SLS Black Series and Ener-G-Force concept
By C.C. Weiss
November 30, 2012
Mercedes may have already previewed the SLS AMG Black Series and Ener-G-Force, but that definitely didn't stop the two vehicles from dropping jaws at the L.A. Auto Show. The 622-hp supercar and world-roving public safety SUV from the future may have little in common, but either one is enough to stop you dead in your tracks.
"In the world's largest SUV market, it's important that we continue to push the boundaries of what an SUV should be," Mercedes-Benz USA president and CEO Stephen Cannon said in introducing the Ener-G-Force. "But we need to do it in a responsible way."
The Ener-G-Force design study, which served as Mercedes entry in the Los Angeles Design Challenge 2012, exemplifies Cannon's vision by combining a completely re-imagined G-Class design with a fuel cell powertrain that runs on water.
The task of the Design Challenge was to create a highway patrol vehicle for the year 2025. Mercedes used some imagination in envisioning a changing dynamic in patrol duties over the next 13 years.
"Law enforcement will have to prepare for even more crowded roads with electronically monitored and guided traffic, a much larger population and changes in human behavior," the automaker said in its press release. "The new times will also call for new police vehicles. They must be able to reach any place conceivable quickly and reliably – even far away from any pavement. And they must do so in an exceptionally environmentally friendly way using alternative energy sources."
The Ener-G-Force is a futuristic extension of the current G-Class. The utility vehicle is capable of riding over any type of surface necessary thanks to its large wheels and gnarled tires. The small glasshouse is designed to protect the officers inside, while a set of roof-mounted flashers conveys authority.
Mercedes had so much fun in conceptualizing the Ener-G-Force patrol vehicle, it decided to build a 1:1-scale model of a civilian version, which is what you see in the photos. Defining exterior features of the Ener-G-Force include its bold grille and G-shaped LED headlamps. The off-roader keeps the G-Class signature of fender-mounted front turn signals and running lights. In back, the area typically reserved for the spare tire houses a pull-out toolbox for quick access to the tools of the driver's trade. A "Terra-Scan" unit on the roof monitors 360 degrees of surrounding terrain and adjusts drive settings accordingly.
The Ener-G-Force takes a bite out of police department and personal budgets by utilizing a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain. Roof tanks store "recycled water," which is converted into hydrogen by a "hydro-tech converter." Fuel cells turn that hydrogen into electricity to power four hub motors, which Mercedes envisions powering the vehicle over 500 miles (805 km) per tank.
The Ener-G-Force didn't take home first place in the Design Challenge, but it's sure to get off-road enthusiasts thinking about the future of their vehicles.
SLS AMG Black Series
"We're introducing the SLS GT to the US in December of this year, when it will become the base offering in the United States," AMG CEO Ola Kallenius said of the SLS AMG model line. "It features more dynamic handling, 20 more horsepower, which puts it at 583 horse, and 479 pound-feet of torque."
"But, we knew, our work wasn't done with the SLS. Supercar customers expect the best from AMG."
The manifestation of that "best" is the 2014 SLS AMG Black Series, which Cannon refers to as the "highest expression of the AMG brand." The bright-yellow lightning bolt made its world debut at the L.A. Auto Show as the most extreme version of the SLS AMG yet.
AMG's 6.3-liter V8 engine gets an extra 39 ponies in Black Series tune, for a total of 622 hp. Meanwhile, AMG drops more than 150 pounds (68 kg) off the curb weight of the car thanks to a variety of carbon fiber reinforced plastic parts. All that extra wrenching inspires a 3.5-second 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) run, a tenth of a second quicker than on the SLS AMG GT.
The 2014 Black Series will hit the North American market next summer. It will be sold in limited volumes at select dealerships.
You can take a more in-depth look at the other Black Series upgrades in our original piece on the supercar. Or just enjoy live photos from the floor of the L.A. Auto Show in the gallery and a heart-skipping trot through twisting, sandstone-walled pavement in the video below.
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