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Mercedes-Benz F700 Research Vehicle
Mercedes loads its latest concept car with advanced technology

Concept cars are manufacturers’ way of showing consumers what to expect from production vehicle in the near future. Some concept cars, such as Porsche's 1993 Boxster Concept, foreshadow styling for a future production model. Other concepts like the Toyota Hybrid X introduce a wealth of technologies that will likely filter down to production models.

Mercedes' latest concept represents the latter (and perhaps a touch of the former). The new F700 Research Car is loaded with just about every piece of technology that Mercedes could possibly cram into a vehicle.

Starting with the drivetrain, the F700 Research Car uses a tiny 1.8 liter direct-injection "DIESOTTO" four-cylinder gasoline engine. Now before you drop your jaw in amazement of such a small motor being used in a large luxury cruiser, also take note of the use of sequential turbocharging along with a dual-mode hybrid system similar to the one use in the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and BMW X6 ActiveHybrid.

The end result is a remarkable 238HP from such small displacement gasoline engine -- the electric motor adds an additional 20HP. 258HP isn't a lot of power when you consider that Mercedes' S65 AMG produces 604HP and a stump-pulling 738 lb-ft of torque, but it is enough to propel the F700 Research Car to 60 MPH in "only" 7.5 seconds.

The efficient powertrain does payoff, however, when it comes to fuel economy and greenhouse emissions. The F700 Research Car consumes only 5.3 liter of gasoline every 100 kilometers (equivalent to 44.3 MPG) and emits only 127 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

"Our goal is to make the gasoline-powered car just as economical in consumption as the diesel. The new DIESOTTO concept is a major step in that direction, combining the best properties of the spark-ignition engine and the diesel engine," said Daimler Chrysler board member Dr. Thomas Weber.

"Researchers and developers need challenges and great goals," Weber continued. "For this reason we think much farther ahead at Mercedes-Benz: we are going to combine the strengths and advantages of both combustion principles in one innovative engine concept. The DIESOTTO drive is a major step forward."

Mercedes didn't stop with the powertrain. The F700 Research Car features LED lighting front and rear, Active PRE-SCAN suspension for better handling and ride comfort, Active Body Control, displays screens mounted in the front seat headrests and a 20" 3D LCD monitor for the rear passengers.

Mercedes has also developed a new control interface to replace its trusty old COMMAND system. The F700 Research Car makes use of a new SERVO-HMI (Human-Machine Interface) system. SERVO-HMI displays vehicle information at the base of the windshield and does away with traditional HVAC and multimedia controls. The positioning of vehicle information allows the driver to keep his or her eyes focuses straight ahead instead of towards the center console.

Other critical vehicle controls such as the DISTRONIC PLUS active cruise control system are accessed through a scroll wheel mounted on the steering wheel. Mundane operations such as turning on headlights, windshield wipers and front/rear defroster are all accomplished automatically using sensors.

The HMI interface is headlined by a young female avatar which can be viewed on the display and interacts both visually and by voice.  The avatar can perform as a virtual assistant and is capable of accessing address books, online databases and can even read email messages aloud to the driver.

While we probably won't see all of the features introduced with the F700 Research Car in future Mercedes models, rest assure that the DIESOTTO engine, PRE-SCAN system and Servo-HMI will likely make the cut.



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RE: Appearance better suited for the Maybach name
By FITCamaro on 9/12/2007 7:01:02 AM , Rating: 3
You can churn out as much horsepower as you want from an engine. The issue is maintaining driveability and reliability. And as you say, it requires a lot of maintenance.

I'd rather have 400hp from a V8 with 400 lb. ft. of torque and have access to that power whenever I want, not just when I reach a high enough RPM for the turbo to kick in. The gas mileage will be similar between the two.


RE: Appearance better suited for the Maybach name
By Verran on 9/12/2007 9:36:26 AM , Rating: 3
I'm really not a V8 kind of guy, but I'd have to agree here. In a light car like an Evo or STi, a little motor with a lot of turbo can be a blast. But I'd be more than willing to bet that this Merc isn't light. Quite the opposite, I'd imagine. So until you get into the high RPMs, this car's probably going to be a dog pulling all that weight on a little 1.8 without turbo assistance.

Sure, this will make respectable horsepower at high RPMs, but this doesn't look like a high RPM car to me. It looks like a comfort cruiser.


By Hare on 9/12/2007 10:34:31 AM , Rating: 2
You do know that they have twin turbos and variable turbos / mechanical chargers that change the wing angles etc? That means that higher end turbos pretty much work starting from idle rpm. I'm sure that they haven't just taken a cheap generic Bosh turbo and put it in their car...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbocharger#Lag
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Lag_System


RE: Appearance better suited for the Maybach name
By MightyAA on 9/12/2007 10:34:55 AM , Rating: 2
A good turbo car will have that powerband available at low revs too. My Saab Viggen for instance has a powerband that hits about 1800 rpm and goes nice and flat (230hp/256 lbs out of 2.3L). Also look at that new BMW turbo 6.

I love the rumble of a V8, but they aren't the most efficient. Turbos are fantastic for mileage since they only force induct when you need it... simply cruising barely uses the turbo. The result is a car like mine that gets 30mpg on the highway if I use a soft foot.

Personally, I'd love to see a small displacement direct injection V8 with dual turbos and cylinder deactivation. Tons of potential in that.


By theapparition on 9/12/2007 12:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You can churn out as much horsepower as you want from an engine. The issue is maintaining driveability and reliability. And as you say, it requires a lot of maintenance.

Absolutely. For instance, Ferrari factory requirements are a complete engine rebuild every 3K. Pretty steep maintenence. When you go forced induction, you basically can crank up the boost to insane levels, however, the engine won't last long. Besides, it's pretty easy to get up to 300-400hp. Going past that is when things get tricky. Try 800hp. When you get to those power levels, everything has to be forged. But you can still get a reliable daily driver even with those power levels, if you do it right. I have over 20k in engine alone on my Z06.

As for the 238hp per 1.8L being impressive? I'm not necessarily swayed by the hp/L argument. The engine is an air pump device. The RX-7 had a 1.8L rotory TT that developed 255hp, but for racing rotory's were classed as engines that were 2X or 3X displacement, because of the equivalent mass of air that was moved. Now this is a conventional piston motor, but even then getting high hp is not a big feat. The engine can develope very low torque, yet be very high reving to compensate (hp=torque x RPM/5250). I've argued against hp/L for years. Who cares. Given two hypothetical 200hp engines, would you rather have a 1.0L that gets 10mpg or a 5.0L that gets 20mpg. And I think that's a better comparison, hp/mpg. And for that, i am very impressed that they have a car that gets to 60 in 7.5sec, developes 238hp (258), and still approaches 43mpg. Now, can they make it cost effective. Very nice accomplishment, but I'll stick with my 800+hp with close to 30mpg (assuming I keep right foot restraint).

BTW, forced induction sucks for racing. When you come off a corner and get into boost, you can find yourself loosing control very quickly. That's why you'll see almost all race cars go with large normally aspirated engines. Rally cars (which I have high respect for) are usually the only ones where you see turbos.


By GoatMonkey on 9/13/2007 8:16:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see a rotary with electric motor assist. You get the high horsepower in a small space from a rotary, and you would get the nice torque from an electric motor at low RPMs.


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