The Mercedes-Benz F 800 Style research vehicle is showing the manufacturer’s vision of future premium automobiles from a new perspective. The five-seat sedan combines highly efficient drive technologies with unparalleled safety and convenience features and an emotive design, which interprets current Mercedes-Benz styling.
The F 800 Style has a spacious interior with intelligent seating and control concepts. Another unparalleled feature for a large sedan is an all-new multi-drive platform, which is suited for electric drives with fuel cells (enabling ranges of almost 370 miles) as well as the use of Plug-in Hybrids that can drive for up to 18 miles solely on electricity. Both variants of the F 800 Style make emission-free mobility possible in the premium class, while still being fully suited to everyday driving.
All of the of the vehicle’s Plug-in Hybrid or fuel cell components can be installed in a space-saving manner in the engine compartment and gaps within the chassis. Each takes up comparatively little space, particularly the electric drive with fuel cell. As a result, the entire interior space is preserved and offers lots of room for five occupants.
In combination with the Plug-in Hybrid drive system, the F 800 Style has a 300hp V6 gasoline engine with next-generation direct injection and a hybrid module with an output of about 109hp to deliver a total of around 409hp.
The lithium-ion battery with a storage capacity of about 10 kWh and can be recharged either at a charging station or a household power socket. Thanks to its powerful and high-torque hybrid module, the F 800 Style can run exclusively on electricity in cities without generating local emissions. With it high-torque electric drive, the vehicle has the same performance as a V6 gasoline engine even in electric mode. Yet it has a certified fuel consumption of 81mpg US. This corresponds to extremely low CO2 emissions of only 68g/km. Yet it has a driving performance comparable to a sports car with 0-62mph in 4.8sec and a top speed of 155mph. When in electric mode, the F 800 has a top speed of 75mph.
As is the case with the Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID introduced in the summer of 2009 and the Vision S 500 Plug-in Hybrid, the electric module of the F 800 is integrated into the housing of the 7G-TRONIC seven-speed transmission. The lithium-ion battery in the new research vehicle is located under the rear seat, where it takes up little space, creates a low center of gravity, and ensures maximum safety in the event of a crash.
The F 800 Style also offers clean driving with a variant fitted with fuel cell technology. The vehicle’s electric motor develops around 136hp as well as a 214 lb-ft of torque. The fuel cell is taken from a range of e-drive modules Mercedes-Benz has developed for a variety of different electric vehicles. These are already being installed in the limited edition B-Class F-CELL as well as commercial vehicles such as the new Citaro fuel cell bus.
The new Mercedes-Benz research vehicle has the fuel cell located in the front, while the compact electric motor is installed at the rear axle. The lithium-ion battery is located behind the rear seats, while two of the four hydrogen tanks are located in the transmission tunnel between the passengers, while the other two are under the rear seat.
In addition to a multi-drive platform, the F 800 features other technological innovations such as a new operating and display concept as well as a human-machine interface (HMI) with a cam touchpad. The cam touchpad HMI is an intelligent system expansion for COMAND. It consists of a touchpad on the center console and a camera that records video images of the user’s hand as it works the pad. The live image of the hand is presented in transparent form in the central display above the console. The user sees the contours of his or her fingers glide across the image without covering anything, thus ensuring that all of the functions of the currently used menu remain visible and can be operated by applying slight pressure to the touchpad. Pressing the display with generates a feeling similar to that of touching laptop keys, so users know when they are carrying out specific actions.
The cam touchpad HMI unit recognizes finger movements on the pad surface such as wiping, pushing, turning, and zooming, thus enabling intuitive regulation of the climate control system, telephone, stereo, navigation and Internet access. Unlike conventional touchscreens, the HMI cam touchpad does not get smudged with fingerprints.
Another user-friendly innovation is the Range on Map function, which shows the remaining possible travel radius during electric vehicle operation as a 360° map depiction. Should municipalities only permit purely electric automobile traffic in the future, the driver can determine whether the electric range of his or her vehicle is sufficient for the journey into and out of the urban area. The system provides this function by combining information on the current battery charge level with data from the navigation system.
The mirror display of the cam touchpad HMI displays driving and vehicle information via a mirror in the instrument cluster so they appear to be farther away. The distance the eye looks into is thus extended, which means less switching between near and far focus — and therefore less fatigue — for the eyes.
Back in 2006, Mercedes-Benz introduced DISTRONIC PLUS, the world’s first proximity and speed control system that operates even when the car is standing still. The system substantially reduces the stress for drivers in dense traffic, as it regulates the distance from the vehicle in front even at very low speeds all the way down to a standstill. With its new DISTRONIC PLUS Traffic Jam Assistant in the F 800 Style, Mercedes has become the world’s first automaker to implement a system that is also capable of automatically following the vehicle in front into curves. The system recognizes the difference between driving along curving roads and turning, which means it does not “blindly” follow the vehicle in front when it changes lanes to exit the highway, for example.
At speeds up to about 25mph, the Traffic Jam Assistant takes care of both longitudinal and transverse movements so drivers do not have to steer themselves. The driver can just sit back and relax — with hands on the steering wheel. When 25mph is exceeded, the steering torque that keeps the vehicle in its lane is gradually reduced to a point at which the Traffic Jam Assistant smoothly disengages. Drivers can, of course, override the system at any time.
While the Traffic Jam Assistant heightens comfort and active safety, the protection system known as PRE-SAFE 360° further improves passive safety. PRE-SAFE 360° is based on a proactive occupant protection system developed by Mercedes-Benz. Unlike the previous PRE-SAFE 360°, it also monitors the area behind the vehicle. As a result, the system engages the brakes around 600 milliseconds before an anticipated rear-end collision. The advantage of this system is that braking a stationary vehicle that is hit in the rear helps prevent secondary accidents.
Another innovation is the rear doors. Whereas the front doors are attached to the A-pillar in a conventional manner and open wide toward the front, the rear doors slide backward when opened, as they are suspended from an interior swivel arm. Because the doors slide back, occupants find it much easier to get into and out of the automobile in tight parking spaces.
The F 800 Style also has no B-pillar, making the entire space between the A and C-pillars completely accessible when the doors are opened. Despite the lack of a B-pillar, the F 800 Style boasts a bodyshell that is both extremely robust and lightweight, and that meets the stringent demands for crash safety.
The F 800 Style exterior appearance is marked by a long wheelbase, short body overhangs, and a flowing roof line. The front end features a variation of the radiator grille with a central star. Along with the wide radiator grille and the curved intakes, the unique LED headlights are divided into individual segments for daytime running, turn signals and primary headlights. The tail lights are also LED units that offer indirect illumination and direct beams.
Wood surfaces and lots of light ensure a high level of comfort inside the F 800 Style. Occupants will notice the modern sense of lightness, and functional elements seem to float. The lightweight-construction seats consist of a magnesium shell and a carbon fiber laminate seatback across which netting is stretched. The seat shell also features wood veneer, which also appears on the center console, doors and in the driver area.
Mercedes-Benz has presented 13 research vehicles since the early 1980s, beginning with Auto 2000 in 1981 and leading up to today’s F 800 Style. Many systems that were first used in research vehicles and viewed as revolutionary can now be found in Mercedes-Benz production cars, including the DISTRONIC proximity-controlled cruise control, which was first installed in the F 100 in 1991 and made its series production debut in the S-Class in 1998.