The Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA – that's 'Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile' – has been unveiled ahead of the IAA (that's the industry name for the 2015 Frankfurt motor show).
The Concept IAA is, according to Mercedes-Benz, a “digital transformer”, and a vehicle that is “two cars in one: an aerodynamics world champion with a Cd [co-efficient of drag] value of 0.19 and a four-door coupe embodying irresistible design”.
According to the German luxury car maker, the Concept IAA can change its body shape to be more aerodynamic when the car hits 80km/h.
At that point (or at the touch of a button, if you’re a bit of a show-off), eight segments extend at the rear of the car, expanding the length of the vehicle by as much as 390 millimetres.
There are also flaps in the front bumper that are said to extend by 25mm to the front and 20mm to the rear to improve the air flow around the front of the car and the front wheel arches. There’s also a louvre built into the front bumper that extends back 60mm to aid underbody airflow, and there are shutters in the wheels that make them become like dinner plates at speed.
The “drop shape” of the car is said to be a “symbiosis of design and aerodynamics”. Even without the highly technical aero bits, the car is long (5040mm in standard mode, 5430mm with the tail extended) and sleek, yet it isn’t overly wide (1995mm) and measures just 1305mm tall.
The back-end features what Mercedes-Benz calls an “airflow break-away edge”, which is similar to the design seen on the backside of the Volkswagen XL1.
The powertrain fitted to the Concept IAA is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid system with a total power output of 205kW and a top speed of 250km/h.
Benz claims the car can drive on electricity alone for up to 66km in “aerodynamic mode” with emissions claimed at 28g/km of CO2, or 62km in “design mode” with emissions of 31g/km. The company claims that the European testing cycle doesn’t necessarily show the advantage of the aero kit, because urban driving accounts for two-thirds of that testing regimen.
Inside, the Concept IAA mirrors a few familiar elements of the S-Class model line, but the concept car is said to take a few steps forward with its “touch-based operating philosophy” that “provides an idea of what the interior of a business saloon might look like in the near future”.
Reading between the lines, there could be a few hints as to what to expect in the next-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class, though the colours – anthracite and white – aren’t the most likely bits.
Indeed, there are two large screens placed side by side (one for the driver, the other for the entire cabin) and that’s similar to the system used in the S-Class. The steering wheel has touch-based 'Optical Finger Navigation' buttons, with the left button controlling the left display and the right controlling the right.
But it’s the lack of hard buttons that separates this interior from those found in production Mercedes-Benz models: there is a screen for controlling cabin temperature, and there’s a touchpad controller between the front seats, too, which seems to hover slightly beneath the hand rest.
Mercedes-Benz cars development head, Dr Thomas Weber, said that this ideas-heavy concept car shows the company is considering many ways to improve efficiency.
"Fascinating and technically sophisticated cars form the core of Mercedes-Benz. The Concept IAA applies intelligent innovations to resolve the conflicting aims of functionality and aesthetics and shows that we still have plenty of ideas on how to achieve further improvements in efficiency," said Weber.
Love it or hate it? Tell us what you think about the Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA in the comments section below and remember to check back soon for all the latest from this year's Frankfurt motor show.
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