Adit Ratnam

An enthusiast of anything that is on wheels, gaming and technology.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive VS Tesla Model S P85D

Front three quarter viewof SLS AMG E-Drive

Among the various gearheads who are into the high end fuel guzzling machines there is another emerging division in automobiles these aficionados might take notice of. This relatively new market is the electric versions of cars that can almost compete with their petrol counterparts. Many automobile manufacturers are realizing this is a division of cars that is untapped with huge potential to become mainstream. Another beneficial aspect to these electric cars is that they are environment friendly and leave a minute carbon footprint retaining the performance that is expected out of these vehicles. A common misconception is that these cars cannot keep up with their petrol counterparts at all but with the constantly developing technologies, they have a chance.

Two car makers are taking this market very seriously and have created two machines that have a formidable chance to stand out among the many cars that are available. German automaker Mercedes-Benz have come into action with their electric car the SLS AMG Electric Drive which is an electric version of their own 6.2L V8 petrol SLS. The Electric Drive version is a limited edition variant that claims to be one of the fastest electric production cars that are available right now. Another American car maker that challenges the SLS AMG Electric Drive is Tesla’s Model P85D an all wheel drive variant of the original Model S.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive Engine: The SLS AMG E-Drive is powered by four independent synchronous motors each churning out  185bhp and 184lb ft of torque for a total of 740bhp. Each motor weighs in at about 45kgs and has a rev count of 13,000 rpm. Taking all this into account, this is one of the most powerful model that Mercedes-Benz has ever developed. The battery that carries out all this is a liquid cooled 400 lithium-ion battery and weighs 548 kg. Utilizing the power of these components, the SLS AMG E-Drive hits 100km/h in around 3.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 250kph. This car is  just 0.3 seconds slower than Mercedes-Benz’s own SLS AMG Black series which is a very impressive feat. 

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Drive engine view
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Drive battery

Exterior: Mercedes-Benz are known for their intricate, appealing body designs for their cars. The SLS AMG Electric is paid the same attention and detailing work as expected. There are no extreme changes done to the design as it retains the unique SLS AMG guise. The body’s frame is made of ultra light carbon fiber and connected to an aluminium space. The front grille also possesses the honeycomb design with the Mercedes badge plastered on it and the air intakes which are next to it receive the same body paint as the rest of the car. The SLS AMG comes in a few color variants, two new colors that are exclusive to the E-Drive version are a distinct hue of glossy blue,  that is shown in the photos, and a matte neon known as electric beam.

Front three quarter viewof SLS AMG E-Drive
Mercedes-Benz glossy blue color variant

Interior: The interiors of the E-Drive also maintains the exclusive design from the internal combustion counterparts. The interiors comprises of lush upholstery that is expected and has new rotary switch labeled as AMG Drive Unit by Mercedes used to select the three transmission modes. The modes that are included are the Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Sport plus modes. With each having varied performance levels from the motors, which in turn changes the accelerator pedal response and top speeds. In addition to this it also includes the AMG media system with neat little additions such as engine performance and a lap time’s feature for those racing enthusiasts out there.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Drive interior
The interiors of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Drive

Tesla Model S P85D Engine: This beast houses a dual motor engine which stands for the D in the P85D, that retains the high power rear drive unit from the older P85, while a brand new front drive motor boosts the overall power by about 50% resulting in an increase in acceleration and top speed. It consists of a 85kwh battery with lithium-ion cells like the SLS AMG. The P85D propels itself with the electric motor that generates 691 hp; that is a combination of 221 hp from the new front motor and 470 hp rear motor making the P85D one of the fastest sedans in the world. It can achieve a insanely fast top speed of 250kph and hits 100km/h in 3.2 seconds.

Exterior: The P85D’s design is relatively simplistic but still includes that classy, elegant but mean look that will appeal to most car buyers. It’s body is designed from carbon fiber which always helps in the weight reduction. The headlights are angled and the front grille is wide with Tesla’s badge on it. The rear tail lights are also sleek and are distinct. The P85D model also has optional carbon fiber spoiler that improves stability at high speeds and Brembo red brake calipers.

Tesla Model S P85D
Tesla Model S P85D

Interior: Tesla is a company that innovates constantly and pushes it’s boundaries. The p85D is no exception to this with the company adding a brand new Autopilot system which introduces an autonomous capability to their lineup of cars. The autopilot mode uses a camera that is mounted atop the windshield and ultrasonic sonar sensors that detects obstacles and also has a self-parking feature. The instrument cluster is a LCD display that indicates the basic functions speed, charge level etc. Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, stated during the unveiling of the P85D a new mode will be added to the existing Normal and Sport modes. This new addition is the Insane mode which unleashes the entire power of the P85D’s engine achieving increased acceleration time and a very high top speed.

Final Thoughts: Each of these electric motor powered cars have pros and cons that  help in deciding which of these would best suit buyers that are looking into these cars. The SLS AMG E-Drive starts at a cool 535,869 US dollars and the Tesla Model S P85D comes in at a much more affordable price at 120,170 US dollars. Based on the prices of these two cars the Tesla seems like a clear choice, but for the elite they would look at the SLS AMG E-Drive too which is a very formidable car. The common factor between these two are the electric engine that leaves a negligible carbon footprint while maintaining the performance that is expected from these vehicles, and the usage of electric motors in cars is inevitable in the years to come.

Virtual Exhilaration: An overview of Driveclub

Pagani Huayra in Driveclub

Cars in video games have been around for a few decades to cater to those gamer’s who are fans of the racing genre and want to drive their dream cars in real life locales or fantastical settings, virtually of course. Many video game companies strive to achieve an enjoyable racing game to appease gamer’s around the world, but a few stand out in the history of racing in video games.

In reality a minority of these games provide an authentic, moderately close to their real life counterparts experience. Some franchises place gamers in high speed chases which have a more arcadey feel to it, such as the hugely popular Need for Speed franchise. Others try to replicate actual tracks and cars faithfully from the sound of the car’s engine to the corners found at Nurburgring’s track. Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport are well known established franchises that accomplish this. But there is a new competitor from Sony’s Playstation brand that is attempting to undermine these established games.

DRIVECLUB

The latest entry to join the massive assortment of racing games is Driveclub, a social and competitive game that tries to find that sweet spot between simulation and arcade. Driveclub is an exclusive game for Sony PS4 fans that brings together stunning real world locations and dream cars in a tidy package.

The developer behind this ambitious venture is Evolution Studios, a UK based company that has conceived other franchises such as World Rally Championship and MotorStorm. With the power of the current generation of consoles they claim to have achieved a whole new level of photo-realism. The environments and the cars have been painstakingly modeled and generated with high detail. There are a vast range of cars extending over classes such as hot hatches, sports, performance, super and hyper. Each class obviously differs in terms of performance and design.

The Cars

The hot hatches consists of popular cars such as the Audi A1 Quattro, Mini Cooper, Renault Clio RS, Volkswagen Golf GTi and the Volkswagen Beetle. The sports class has the Audi RS5, TT RS PLUS, Bentley Continental GT, Lotus Evora, Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG to name a few. The performance, super and hyper cars have a huge array of machines you can get your hands on such as the Alfa Romeo 4C, Aston Martin’s Vanquish and V12 Zagato, Ferarri’s California, 458 Italia, 430 Scuderia. Other car makers have also agreed to license their cars for the game and these vary from the Marussia B2, Savage Rivale GTR-S, Spania GTA Spano, Hennessey Venom GT, Gumpert Apollo Enraged and the RUF CTR3 Clubsport. The cars listed above are just a tiny part of the list of cars that are included in the full game.

Pagani Huayra in Driveclub
Pagani Huayra in Driveclub

Graphics

Artists in other racing games seek to model the best looking cars they can possibly achieve with the game engine while maintaining solid performance. In Driveclub the artists and modelers have hit their mark with depicting the cars in-game to their real life counterparts. A car in the game consists of about 2,60,00 polygons which is extremely dense compared to racing games in the previous generation. Each car takes an average of 7 months to create from the licensing to the actual car in-game. The features that mimic real life is absolutely mind-boggling. From the dirt and dust that gradually builds up during the race on the cars to the animation and rigging of the aero flaps found in the Pagani Huayra are exactly like in real life. Another interesting point to note is that Pagani employ seamstresses that are on the body of their cars and even have their name etched onto the screw heads, even these nuances are added into the game. The sense of speed that is shown in the game gives it the edge over the racers too.

The locations that are available to race in are Canada, Chile, Norway, Scotland and very surprisingly India. Each country has 11 tracks to test your skills and each offer stunning views. Norway and Scotland have the beautiful vistas you can race by and India has pristine lakes on the side with a flock of flamingos feeding that move naturally. Skies are generated uniquely everytime a race starts so that you never see the same sky twice and clouds react dynamically to wind speeds. Finally if you're racing around tracks in Norway or Scotland expect to see the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights in the sky.

[caption id="attachment_3477" align="aligncenter" width="600"]McLaren MP4 - 12C  in Driveclub Showcasing Driveclub's dynamic weather system[/caption] Audio and Car Handling The audio in a game is another important aspect of racing games that are usually overlooked. In this game each car was fitted with 16 different microphones to capture the sound 360 degrees from inside and outside the car and even a few mics in the exhaust. When the camera is panned around the car, the engine reacts to your perspective and the sound shifts accordingly. Also each view of the car provides a different sound when inside the cockpit and outside the car. The recordings that Evolution Studios had were so accurate that BMW and Mercedez-Benz AMG requested copies to replace their existing libraries. Although not a simulator, Driveclub's handling model is based on real world cars and data provided directly by the manufacturers. Taking this into account a gamer with any amount of experience can easily get started without too much of a hassle. Evolution Studios worked with Thrustmaster, a company that specializes in steering wheels for games, closely to achieve a 1:1 movement between your hands and the steering wheel in-game.
[caption id="attachment_3478" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Cockpit in Driveclub Highly detailed cockpit views[/caption] Final Thoughts If you're a casual or hardcore gamer and if you're a car enthusiast, Driveclub will offer an unique and amazing experience for everyone that has a go at it. The game boasts of an enviable line-up of cars at launch, stunning visuals and a friendly online community that will most definitely get players addicted. More cars will be added at later dates as free downloadable content along with a dynamic weather system and a photo mode so you can admire your dream cars cruising along in stunning locales. The game is exclusive to Sony's PlayStation 4 and retails at Rs. 3,999 at most stores for physical and digital copies.