GRR

Is the Mercedes Vision EQ Silver Arrow the sexiest electric car yet?

27th August 2018
Bob Murray

Selling battery power surely can’t get any sexier than this: meet the electric Silver Arrow from Mercedes-Benz. Unveiled at the weekend at Pebble Beach in California, it’s a sublime fusion of heritage and hi-tech, craftsmanship and computers, speed and luxury.

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It’s the Vision EQ Silver Arrow or, as Mercedes puts it, “an emotive signpost to the future of design”. Fall in love with this and feel good about the EQ C electric SUV that comes to market in 2019 as Mercedes’ first tailor-made electric vehicle.

Where other companies invent a heritage for their electric flagbearers, Mercedes merely turns back the pages of its own history book. In this case to 1937 and the streamlined W125 record-breaker that Rudolf Caracciola blasted down the A5 autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt at 268.75mph – a public-road speed record that stood, incredibly, until 2017 (when Koenigsegg pinched it).

Similarities between the new concept and its role model? An undeniably sensuous single-seat streamliner body in “alubeam silver” for starters even though, unlike the famous Silver Arrow grand prix cars – whose aluminium bodies were left unpainted to save weight – this is actually silver paint on a carbon-fibre body.

There’s 1930s class to the finish inside, with its saddle-brown leather, polished aluminium and solid walnut – all Mercedes’ idea of the “progressive luxury” that the show car promotes. It does of course go hand in hand with the cutting-edge from the digital world in the form of a curved panoramic screen with back projection, as well as a touchscreen integrated into the steering wheel.

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Speed and power, 70 years ago as now, are what distinguishes a Silver Arrow and the EQ version doesn’t disappoint. There’s no  mighty twin-supercharged V12 under the bonnet here though. With a slab of batteries in the floor and motors back and front, the modern interpretation is of course all electric. But with 738bhp it develops virtually the same power as the 725bhp Rekordwagen of 70 years ago. Mercedes isn’t saying whether the EQ Silver Arrow would also hit 268mph – and these days the A5 autobhan to Frankfurt is probably not the best place to try it…

One area where the concept could probably beat its ancestor is range: its 80kWh battery should keep this sleek beauty rolling for around 250 miles.

Mercedes’ chief design officer Gorden Wagener said: “The Vision EQ Silver Arrow draws on that (speed) legacy. Intended for acceleration and driving pleasure, it embodies progressive luxury and provides an insight into the future of our design.”

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Five things on EQ Silver Arrow that probably won’t make production…

1. The ability to turn that back-projection dashboard screen into a virtual racing game where you compete against 1930s grand prix Silver Arrow racers while AI gives you tips on how to beat them.

2. Pirelli tyres whose tread pattern is made up of hundreds of three-pointed stars.

3. Piped-in engine sounds in the otherwise silent electric car that include the roar of a current Formula 1 Silver Arrow (we’d rather have the sound of the 1930s original…)

4. The “half spat” look over the wheels, which are partially free-standing multi-spokers with non-rotating hub caps - possibly not great over speed humps.

5. Two extendible rear spoilers that act as an air brake by increasing the wind resistance.

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