Pull the chrome door handle, sidle yourself across the leather and find a comfortable position, reach for the luxurious padded door pull… wait for the reassuring thud as one of Stuttgart’s all time greats envelops you in a luxurious cocoon. Strap yourself in, focus on the horizon and turn the key…
There’s a faint electrical hum as the car comes to life, rising to a subdued and barely audible crescendo. A red light on the dashboard indicates all is well and the LED gauge that used to be a temperature dial shows battery levels.
Weighing roughly the same as a standard R107 SL, the car is balanced front to back by an even split of batteries shared between the boot and bonnet. The electrics and running gear are all smartly hidden, leaving no clues to the cars potential other than the dials, a non-standard gear selector and charging plug beneath the fuel flap.
Unlike a traditional internal combustion engine, the electric motor requires no time to come to life. There’s no delay while fluids warm and belts churn. Once the key is in the ignition, the SL is ready to be enjoyed. Although we don’t call it the ignition, because there’s nothing to ignite…
Mounted in the front and rear of the car are 53kWh of Tesla batteries, powering a 150hp 213lb.ft electric motor. This is more than enough power for an SL and offers 150 miles of range – perfect for the average enthusiast.
The SportLine Zero uses standard R107 axles, driving though a manual transmission, which you can pop into second gear and drive like a conventional two-pedal automatic.
Push the throttle and the SportLine Zero delivers it’s power delicately. We’ve chosen to dial down the acceleration at slow speeds to more closely match the R107, giving it an organic and less robotic feel to EVs you may have driven. It offers 0-60 sprint times similar to the original, but the performance can be refined and adjusted to suit the owner. Don’t be deceived by the classic looks, this is a quick and capable car.
As you push the throttle further the acceleration keeps on coming, all kept in check by Mercedes-Benz R107 SportLine suspension and brakes. We used as much of the original components that make up the R107, because the feeling and the aesthetic are closely linked to the overall experience.
The car still feels weighty and substantial, a key aspect of the famously over-engineered R107. Have we lost the soul or created an all-new sensation? We’ll let motoring journalist Quentin Wilson answer that one – he was one of the first non SLSHOP staff to drive the SportLine Zero:
“This electric SL can really shift… the sheer ingenuity of engineering this old Merc to drive so well on battery power eclipsed my nostalgia for its traditional powerplant… I was repeatedly struck at how captivating it felt’ (Excerpt from Classic Cars, April 2020 – Read the full article here)
“What’s also quickly apparent is how natural it all feels, like the SL should have always been powered like this.” (Excerpt from Daily Telegraph, April 2020 – Read the full article here)
We’ve gone the distance to build an electric powered SL, not an electric car that looks like an SL.