Mercedes’ people took our phones away before ushering us into a heavily-guarded garage at Spain’s Monteblanco racetrack, where, finally, we were given an up-close and personal tour of the $3.1 million (2.275 million euro) Mercedes-AMG ONE. Friends, we weren’t ready. At SHARP HQ, we’ve seen and driven more than our fair share of multi-million dollar supercars. We’re a little jaded, perhaps. But this is straight up the most ambitious, most daring supercar we’ve ever laid eyes on.
All the cloak-and-dagger secrecy felt almost justified. The AMG ONE is nuts. It’s not a car; it’s a spaceship. It’s also the new Nürburgring Record holder, as you can see from its blistering hot lap below. The fact that it managed to hit a time of 6:35 on a damp track (14 seconds faster than a Porsche 911 GT3 RS, which ran on a dry track) is absolutely incredible.
Racetrack times aside, there’s a lot to take in when looking at the ONE up close. Pop open the two ultralight carbon panels covering the engine bay, and what you see looks like the inner-workings of some top-secret NASA jet. It’s raw, the opposite of the sterile S-Class, which purposefully hides all of its grubby mechanical bits. Here, everything is exposed. There are wires, coolant hoses, meticulous metal fittings, lots of cabon-fibre and titanium, and it’s all on display, packaged with the attention to detail and lightweight efficiency normally only seen in the aerospace industry — or, perhaps in Formula 1.
The car that would eventually become the Mercedes-AMG ONE was originally unveiled way back in 2017, but it’s taken until now to get the first of 275 production models rolling out the factory and into customers’ hands. Each owner paid 2.275 million euros ($3.1 million of our Canadian dollars) before taxes, and, sorry, the cars are sold out.
An F1 car for the road
Seeing the AMG ONE up close, it does seem like a not-so-distant cousin to Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 racecar. Both machines have an experimental hand-build quality, and — most impressively — they share an engine.
The 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 hybrid powertrain is nearly identical to one found in the company’s F1 cars. One key difference being that the road-going engine has a “chemical lab” attached to it. That’s how AMG’s engineers refer to the incredibly complex emissions-reduction equipment necessary to make this high-strung engine road legal. (There’s a reason no other car company has ever attempted to put a modern F1 engine in a road car.) All that emissions gear is heavy, which explains why the ONE didn’t quite meet its original weight target. The DIN weight of 1,695 kg is light for a roadcar, but approximately twice as heavy as an F1 racecar.
To turn the car on, you need to first switch on the high-voltage electric heaters for the catalytic converters. It takes a minute or so for them to get up to temperature, and the car can only drive on electric power while that happens. Then, finally, the F1 motor fires up and all hell breaks loose.
Rumour has it Lewis and several other current and former F1 drivers have all put in orders, which is hardly surprising after you see the spec sheet.
The numbers are staggering. Total output is 1,063 horsepower, including 574 hp from the combustion engine, 163 hp from an electric motor on the crankshaft, 326 hp from the electric motors on the front axle, and 122 hp from an exhaust-gas powered electric motor. The dash from 0-100 km/h takes 2.9 seconds, 0-200 takes 7.0, and 0-300 happens in 15.6 seconds. The top speed is 352 km/h, and yet this thing will also dawdle around town for 18.1 kilometres on electric-only power. The exotic V6 revs to 11,000 rpm, has pneumatic valve springs, dry-sump lubrication, a titanium exhaust, and — yes — you’ll have to fill it with premium 94 octane gas.
In the driver’s seat
Getting into the AMG ONE requires a bit of a gymnastics routine, and once you’re in, it’s certainly small but not as cramped as you’d imagine. The two fixed seats are part of the carbon monocoque, and you sit — much like an F1 driver does — with your feet up high. It sounds strange, but it’s surprisingly comfy, especially since the steering wheel and pedals can slide forwards and back as needed. It’s cozy.
On the steering wheel is a plethora of buttons controlling a dizzying number of chassis, aerodynamic, suspension, and powertrain modes. Good luck with that. You’ll have to read the owner’s manual to know, for example, that the “Strat 2” driving program sets the car up for a maximum-speed qualifying run.
As if trying to drive this frighteningly fast machine wasn’t difficult enough, drivers can also opt to manually control the hybrid energy recuperation and the Drag Reduction System (DRS). The good news is that there is air-conditioning to cool you down once you inevitably work up a sweat.
Because we’re a Canadian magazine, we’ll give a quick shout out to Multimatic, the whiz-kid Toronto-area company — well known for supplying parts to F1 teams and building supercars on behalf of Ford and Aston Martin — who have been involved in the project. Those exotic, gargantuan inboard-mounted dampers you see in AMG? Those are one of Multimatic’s contributions.
When you invest as much as Mercedes does on making a winning F1 team (even if they’re not having the best season this year) you want to get the maximum return on that investment, hence the flagship AMG ONE supercar. But, the product plan doesn’t end here. AMG is also launching a new range of ultra-high-performance plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), branded with the “E Performance” label. The first of those was the unhinged 843 horsepower, $200,000 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance sedan, and we can’t wait to see what AMG cooks up next.