Thomas Geiger gives his impressions from behind the wheel of the futuristic Mercedes EQ Silver Arrow.
When night falls in Dubai the boys take out their toys and roll through the streets for the famous local "Look at me!” show that is a regular fixture in this town.
Tonight however, nobody is paying much attention to the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces roaring up and down the crowded streets between the glitzy shopping malls.
Tonight there is only one show in town and it is, a 17.4-feet long silver vision of speed, self-illuminated by a bank of blue and white LEDs. Sitting on giant wheels only half covered by the aluminium-carbon-fibre bodywork, this racecar from the future turns heads and attracts every camera within range.
Taking his inspiration from the record-breaking Mercedes W125 racecar of 1937, Mercedes’ Chief Designer Gorden Wagener fast-forwarded the essence of the iconic Silver Arrow into the future. The resulting vision makes Lewis Hamilton’s Championship-winning Formula One machine look like a relic.
Almost half a year after the, Mercedes has allowed the silver dream racer out for the evening on the streets of Dubai, where I was invited to take the wheel. Every eyeball is riveted to the proceedings as the canopy above the single central seat silently rises and I carefully climb in, sliding over the low-slung bodywork and dropping down into the beautifully trimmed leather wrapped seat.
More lying down than sitting, with my butt seemingly right on the tarmac I feel like a Formula 1 driver with a first-class ticket. While Hamilton’s Silver Arrow F1 car is not much more than a carbon condom with all the comfort that this implies, my ride is surprisingly spacious and actually quite luxurious.
Fine leather lines the cockpit, the floor is crafted from chestnut wood, the pedals are machined from billet alloy, and the controls look straight out of a fast jet. Meanwhile, my head sticks out of the sleek bodyshell, my face illuminated in blue by the panoramic screen under the windscreen cowling and the steering wheel mounted instrument readout. No wonder the people gathered around the car seem to be staring as if I'd just landed from Mars.
Come to think of it the EQ Silver Arrow could probably get me to Mars, at least with a few pit stops to top up the 80 kWh-batteries located in the flat floor. A quick calculation to divide the 33.9 million mile journey to the Red Planet by the cars 249-mile range on a full charge as claimed by Mercedes means that a mere 141,000 charging stops would be required!
This rocket on wheels is propelled by one electric engine per axle, giving a combined output of 750 horsepower. In theory that should be enough for a 0-60 mph time of around 2.0 seconds, while matching the 268.9 mph Vmax achieved by daredevil Rudolf Caracciola with the famous W125 in 1938 should not be difficult for Captain Future’s ride.
So much for dreaming. The reality here in Dubai tonight is that as the Silver Arrow is a hand build one-off, its performance capabilities are as limited as it is valuable. "Don’t damage it!” said the technician who helped me into the cockpit.
As good as the advice appearing on the screen regarding the perfect racing lines of a certain Toto Wolf might be, the technical challenges to this car blitzing the lap record at the Dubai Autodrome are insurmountable at this point. While I might have a perfect view with my head in the wind, the ratio and response of the steering are not exactly direct for a car of this projected power and speed, so I err on the side of caution and just tickle the throttle gingerly.
However, even that is enough to take my breath away. Just 30 mph already feels like you are doing Mach 1, and I can imagine a firm push on the throttle pedal engages warp speed. At that moment I am thankful the Mercedes EQ Silver Arrow is not just stunningly beautiful but also generates enough downforce to keep it on planet Earth.
The retro-futuristic EQ Silver Arrow is a timeless beauty that sadly will remain a concept. As we awaken to the dawn of driverless and emotionless cars we should be thankful that there will always be inspired minds who will dream up cars like this.