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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - F700

Shock: F700 heralds radical Mercedes-Benz future

Crystal ball: F700's drastic new exterior could hint at future Benz designs.

Luxury Mercedes cruiser showcases future tech including cutting-edge DiesOtto engine

13 Sep 2007

A RADICAL new-look concept car presented at this week's Frankfurt motor show opening exposes future Mercedes-Benz styling cues and technology for the first time.

The F700, dubbed a research car, is not only testing reaction to cutting-edge styling themes, but also provides a glimpse at new technology that could define the future of the petrol combustion engine.

One of the most interesting technological features is its control system that uses a computer assistant or “avatar” for help with complex input operations – think the Hal-9000 ship computer from 2001 Space Odyssey, but without the attitude.

It is an advancement of voice recognition technology and the avatar, in this case a young woman, engages in dialogue with the driver to control systems including satellite-navigation, phone, audio and entertainment systems.

4 center imageThe F700 also features a system called Pre-scan which uses laser scanners built into the headlights which scan the road to map the profile of the surface.

This information is then transferred to the suspension system which would adjust proactively.

Perhaps the most important technology to be previewed with the F700 can be found under the bonnet.

Mercedes claims the 1.8-litre DiesOtto petrol engine delivers similar performance to a 3.5-litre petrol V6.

Under heavy loads, this direct-injection turbo unit runs just like any other petrol engine, using spark ignition.

When there is less load placed on the engine, the DiesOtto switches to a compression ignition mode without spark, like a diesel engine.

The fuel mix is ultra lean for this compression ignition mode, which means it uses less petrol.

The F700 engine also uses an electric motor to assist with acceleration.

Despite claiming it “thought-up” the Diesotto engine advancement, the basic idea behind this powerplant is not new and most major car-makers have or are currently examining the technology referred to as homogeneous charge compression ignition or HCCI.

Problems preventing the technology from going into production so far have included developing software that could accurately manage the precise valve timing, spark control and air/fuel mix needed for the cutting-edge technology.

Mercedes appears to have overcome these challenges and is the first car-maker to signal its intent to use HCCI technology in a production vehicle.

Powered by the DiesOtto engine, the F700 uses just 5.3 litres of fuel for 100km, which is remarkable for a large sedan.

But while the DiesOtto will raise the pulses of mechanical engineers, it is the exterior styling of the F700 which will interest car designers.

The F700 is described as a luxurious super touring sedan with similar dimensions to the S-class.

While the radical design themes present in the F700 are, perhaps thankfully, unlikely to appear on the next-generation S-Class, some of the experimental lines and other features could be incorporated, depending on feedback from Frankfurt.

Read more:

First look: Benz reveals its alternative-fuel future


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