Chris Harris explains why the launch of the Mercedes-AMG One was so long delayed and why it was so complicated to produce a Formula 1-powered street car.
Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius said last year: “We must have been drunk when we gave the green light to production for the Mercedes-AMG One“.
Chris Harris says the decision to go with a Formula 1 engine that already had numerous motorsport use problems created many obstacles in the car’s development. Harris spoke at the time of the project’s launch in 2017 with several engineers who felt the project didn’t make sense. “I think a lot of them regretted it,” says Harris, who appreciates that they persevered despite the many problems.
Harris says they had two cars at their disposal on the day they made the film for Top Gear, and both vehicles had problems. But Chris was impressed by the turbocharged engine, which is only 1.6 liters and delivers 1,000 ps (986 hp) and revs to 10,000 rpm. He believes this is the quintessential for Mercedes-AMG One and says you can buy an Aston Martin Valkyrie or other hypercars, but none will offer the thrills this engine does.
Chris Harris says there were supercars that were considered rubbish at launch, but today they are highly regarded and says very metaphorically that “It is a naked ambition of trying to make a Formula 1 engine work on the road“. And jokingly, he says the engineers must have wondered, “Who the hell said we should do this?”
As for the driving experience, Chris says the gearbox is slow, and he can’t see anyone taller than him fitting into this car because the driving position is awkward.
The engineers explained that the car has so much electricity on board that it needs to be consumed, and that’s why they filled the gear changes with electric torque. That’s why you don’t need quick shifts because you always have enormous torque. The Mercedes-AMG One‘s propulsion system produces so much electricity that it has nowhere to consume it, and you don’t have a wastegate like in case of a turbo.
The excess electricity manifests itself in two ways: it fills the gap between gears and at the same time, it’s also a significant problem because it can cut the internal combustion engine’s power supply to use electricity. And if this happens during braking, it’s a big problem.
Chris also says it’s the noisiest supercar he’s ever sat in. It’s a very loud, mechanical sound unlike anything else. But even at idle, you can’t hear the music inside, so it’s worth giving up the Hi-Fi system.