There’s something about a long hood that makes everyone go weak in the knees. All that space between the front wheels and the doors exudes raw power and massive wealth.
It’s been true from the earliest days of the automobile, when cylinder count was synonymous and commensurate with both horsepower and bank account. It’s true today, even in an era of engine downsizing and forced induction. If the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Concept is any indication, it’ll be true in the era of electric vehicles, as well.
That’s right. Hiding beneath that flight deck of a hood is not a V-12 but a trunk with custom-fitted luggage. Beneath that is an 80 kW-hr battery mounted in the floor for better weight distribution and a low center of gravity. It drives four permanent-magnet synchronous electric motors, one connected to each wheel. Together they produce 738 horsepower.
Before we discuss performance, it would give greater perspective to first address the elephant in the wheelbase. This car is huge. At 224.4 inches long, it’s 18.7 feet of 1 percent chariot. That’s 10 inches longer than the Mercedes-Maybach S600 and 5 inches short of a Rolls-Royce Phantom II, and those both have four doors. Remember when American cars were land yachts? The biggest of them all, the 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limousine, was just 2 feet longer (3 inches short of the modern Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman six-passenger limousine, as it happens). At 52.3 inches tall, it’s only 2 inches taller than the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Long and low, baby.
The SLS AMG brings us to another important point: This electric drivetrain is happening. When Mercedes-Benz first rolled out the SLS AMG E-Cell concept, it seemed like nothing more than an electric-blue science project. Then the company surprised everyone by selling a handful of electric all-wheel-drive SLS AMG Electric Drive supercars for more than half a million dollars each. That car made 740 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. Sound familiar? Now, Benz tells us that four-motor powertrain is in development for series production.
So how does this tank perform? Quite well, thank you very much. Like the much smaller SLS AMG Electric Drive before it, Benz claims the 6 will hit 62 mph in less than four seconds and is limited to 155 mph. Driven normally, it’ll do 200 miles on a charge by EPA standards, and thanks to a DC quick-charge system, can take on 62 miles worth of electricity in just five minutes.
It’s not all big power, big hood, and big wheels (24 inches, by the way), either. Step through the gullwing doors (because of course), and this 2+2 four-seater is a five-star spaceship. Passengers lounge in swoopy chairs that would make Arne Jacobsen proud and control everything on a continuous strip of touchscreen, which runs the length of the dash and both doors. The windshield is a massive display screen, both for driver information and an augmented reality smorgasbord for passengers who’d like to know anything and everything about the world zipping by out the windows. Those seats, by the way, are full of sensors that can track everything from your health to the color of your clothes and use the information to mix up the mood lighting. It’s a concept car, so why not? By that same logic, the floor is made of elm rather than carpet, which Benz is researching as a new wood trim for production cars.
Mercedes-Benz Vision concepts have a nonexistent track record when it comes to production, so don’t expect to see your local oligarch stepping out of a 6 any time soon. That’s not to say this “study,” as Benz calls it, doesn’t have production implications. It’s no secret Mercedes would like its Maybach sub-brand to stick it to the British duo that’s had a lock on rolling displays of wealth the last few decades. Sure, the Phantom Coupe is on its way out, but recall that Rolls-Royce just recently revealed its own futuristic concept with “Vision” in the name, and it was also a massive electric coupe. Then there’s the matter of that Bentley coupe concept with the number 6 in its name. Do your metric math right, and there’s a big, sexy, insanely expensive Mercedes-Maybach coupe in the future, and it might even be an EV.