This is the new Mercedes F800 Style, a stunning concept car that the Germany company will unveil at the 2010 Geneva motor show next month. The exterior previews the next CLS (and Mercedes’ future design language) while under the skin there’s all sorts of clever tech, from the next generation of HMI control systems to plug-in and fuel-cell powertrains.
Plug-in hybrids and fuel cells? How does the new Mercedes F800 Style manage that?
Mercedes calls it a ‘multi-drive platform’, and the F800 Style is built to take both hydrogen fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid powertrains, with the former offering a range of 375 miles and the latter allowing for 19 zero-emissions miles. Because Mercedes has managed to shrink the size of its F-Cell (fuel cell) componentry, the F800 can squeeze the fuel cell or plug-in hybrid powertrains into the engine compartment and (says Mercedes) the gaps within the chassis. And there’s still room inside for five.
The plug-in version of the F800 Style has a next-generation, direct-injection 299bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, mated to an 80kW hybrid module that’s integrated into the seven-speed gearbox. There's also a lithium-ion battery with over 10kWh of storage capacity, and the F800 can reach 75mph in electric mode – it manages 155mph with petrol power – and return 68g/km.
The all-electric version features a 100kW motor that develops 214lb ft and is powered by a hydrogen full cell and lithium-ion batteries. The technology is a development of the system found in the B-class F-Cell, though adapted for the F800’s rear-drive layout.
Merc promises we’ll see more of the both alternative powertrains in production cars soon. 'Characteristic features of the F800 Style are its innovations, whose development is already close to the series production stage,’ says Professer Herbert Kohler, Merc's chief environmental officer. ‘This is true not only of the electric drive with fuel cells but also of the Plug-in Hybrid, whose components were taken from our modular system for electric and hybrid vehicles.' Expect an S500 Plug-in Hybrid version of the next-gen S-class.
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What about the F800's looks inside and out?
The exterior glasshouse and side profile gives us a few hints at how the next CLS will look, but the rest of the styling is a development of the Fascination concept. That means a much more curvaceous look than the current Mercedes range, with lots of creases along the flanks to give the F800 a more sporty appearance. From some angles the proportions look a little odd, and the rear LED lights are similar to BMW’s Concept CS but overall we like – there’s a reason for the Style moniker.
Inside (and after you watch the rear doors slide back) there’s leather and wood trim, magnesium and aluminium seats, and a three-piece sunroof that floods the cabin with light, but much more important are the new gadgets. Top of the list is the latest version of Merc’s COMAND multimedia system, with a touchpad similar to that found on the new A8, but with a camera that records the driver’s hand and projects the image onto the screen so he or she can see what they’re about to press. We’d be surprised if the touchpad wasn’t on the next S-class, though Merc’s engineers are surely seething that Audi beat them to market.
Any other tech?
Of course. The sat-nav system on the F800 also features the succinctly dubbed Range on Map feature, which lets the drivers know the remaining range during electric running via a 360-deg depiction on the sat-nav map. And all the information on the F800’s screens is projected so it appears in the distance, meaning drivers don’t have to refocus between vehicles on the road and up-close displays in the car.
The F800 also has Merc’s new Distronic Plus Traffic Jam Assistant, which means the car recognises when the vehicle in front pulls off the motorway and doesn’t blindly follow it. And there’s the latest PRE-SAFE 360° system seen on the ESF 2009 concept too, which uses monitors to anticipate rear-end collisions and apply the brakes 600 milliseconds before a potential impact, hopefully stopping you rear-ending the car in front.
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