Mercedes-Benz will make public long-held plans for a new entry-level four-door coupé at next month’s Geneva motor show, with the unveiling of the F800 Style.
The new four-door concept previews the styling, dimensions and packaging of a replacement for the CLC, which should reach UK showrooms by the end of 2013. Described to Autocar as a baby brother to the larger and more opulent CLS, the new car will form part of Mercedes-Benz’s next-generation A and B-class family.
It will share its front-wheel drive mechanical architecture with those cars, although this concept is also designed to show off a new modular rear-wheel drive platform. There will also be a four-wheel-drive, 300bhp turbocharged AMG range-topper.
The F800’s exterior dimensions are said to be very close to the production car’s. At 4738mm long, 1938mm wide and 1445mm high, the car will also be similar in size to the forthcoming C-class coupé, a two-door version of today’s C-class due this time next year.
Unlike that car, which will look more like a two-door saloon, the production F800 will have a more radical profile overlaid with futuristic styling referenced first by the Mercedes-Benz Bionic and, more recently, by the BlueZero line of concept cars.
This new look has been overseen by Mercedes’ recently appointed design boss, Gorden Wagener, who has taken little time in stamping his mark on the look of the firm’s future models, first with the Concept Fascination shown at 2008’s Paris motor show and now with the F800 Style.
Mercedes Dieter Zetsche said the car showed where Mercedes wants to go with its future design direction. "The F800's relevant aspect is that we did not have a comprehensive styling strategy before," he said. "We will have more consistency in the line up in the future and the F800 points to that"
Apart from removing the concept car flourishes such as the complex sliding rear doors, 20in wheels (with narrow 215/45 low-resistance tyres) and futuristic interior architecture, the production car will look much like the F800.
“There will be some alterations to satisfy crash regulations and the like, but the character will remain much the same,” a Mercedes source revealed. “You will instantly recognise it again, even though we’ll have to wait a few years until it finds its way into showrooms.”
The car’s appearance also previews the second-gen CLS that’s due to be unveiled at this September’s Paris show — including its SLS-inspired ‘soft’ front grille, extreme bodywork creases, coupé-like roofline, high-set bootlid and wide, angular tail-lights.
The production coupé will use Mercedes’ new MFA platform. Developed to replace the firm’s expensive sandwich-floor architecture, it will also be used in the A and B-classes and a new small SUV. It can support differing wheelbase and track widths.
The F800 Style has a lengthy wheelbase of 2924mm that provides it with ultra-short front and rear overhangs and a roomy interior, with up to 440 litres of luggage space.
But the car is not just about previewing a new coupé. It has also been created to showcase developments in Mercedes’ hybrids and fuel cells, as well as a new modular rear-drive platform that will feature in the new C-class, due in 2015.
The first of these powertrain concepts features a new turbocharged, 3.5-litre, direct-injection V6 petrol engine producing 300bhp. It is supported by a 109bhp electric motor mounted inside the seven-speed automatic gearbox. It’s powered by a lithium ion battery sited low down beneath the rear seat for optimum weight distribution and a low centre of gravity.
Like the hybrid system developed by Volkswagen for the new Touareg, the F800 uses an automatic decoupling clutch. When the driver lifts off the throttle, a clutch positioned between the engine and the electric motor opens to disconnect them. This set-up is designed to use the car’s momentum to achieve optimum battery recharging through the electric motor, which acts as an alternator to collect kinetic energy.
Mercedes-Benz’s figures claim a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec and a 155mph top speed for the F800 hybrid, with combined fuel consumption of 97mpg and CO2 emissions of 68g/km. It can also travel on electric power alone for almost 19 miles, during which top speed is limited to 75mph.
The F800 Style has also been designed to accommodate a new fuel cell as part of the second stage of a customer lease programme. The first phase was kicked off recently by the B-class Fuel Cell, which will soon be available to selected customers.
Packaged completely within the new car’s front end structure, the fuel cell feeds a slightly more powerful electric motor than its petrol engine-assisted hybrid sibling, producing 136bhp.
The 0-62mph time is put at 11.0sec, while top speed is limited to 112mph. With claimed consumption of just 0.9kg of hydrogen per 100km (the equivalent of three litres of diesel per 100km), overall range is put at 373 miles.