Somewhat against the grain for 1991, the F100 was a “rakish MPV”, and it impressed Robinson. Styling, he mused, was “superbly finished, tall but sleek, and original”, while the interior, accessed by “open to the touch, electrically powered doors”, revealed “bucket seats for only five occupants, despite an overall length of 4869mm”.
The front three seats were positioned in a layout similar to that which appeared a year later in the McLaren F1, with the driver in the centre. “Crash test research proves the centre of the car is the safest position,” explained Robinson. “Since Mercedes’ statistics show that, on average, cars carry only 1.3 passengers in commuting driving, priority was given to driver protection in frontal offset crashes and side impacts.”
Under the bonnet sat a 2.6-litre, 90deg V6. It was not new, however, having been designed in the mid-1980s, but the 1991 Detroit show was its first public appearance. Focus on new components was instead diverted to “blending into one concept car the various techniques and systems developed within the giant Daimler-Benz group of companies”.
Of the cabin, Robinson was enthusiastic about the excellent vision afforded by the huge windscreen, while video and radio systems eliminated blind spots and allowed the F100 to maintain a predetermined distance from the car ahead. This was technology that wouldn’t appear on a Mercedes-Benz road car until 2005.
Somewhat prophetically, Robinson went on: “Mercedes’ research suggests that in the future, cars will combine independent movement with integration into traffic flow via onboard computers that use satellite information to show where you are, how to get to your destination, where to park and how to avoid congestion.” The Japan-only Mazda Eunos Cosmo became the first car with sat-nav in 1990, but it was still a novel idea when the F100 appeared and didn’t become common until the 2000s.
“The F100’s destiny is no more than to occupy a prominent spot in the Mercedes museum,” concluded Robinson. “It takes a small step towards the centralised control of the car, although Mercedes admits this vision of the future is at least a decade away from reality.”
Previous Throwback Thursdays
10 March 1979 - A Rover SD1 with a difference
4 September 1996 - The original Porsche Boxster driven
5 April 1986 - Audi Quattro vs Porsche 944 Turbo
16 May 1987 - Ford Escort XR3i Cabriolet
17 October 1981 - The £12,000 baby Aston Martin
16 January 1985 - The launch of the Sinclair C5
15 April 1960 - Porsche's four-cylinder roots
17 August 2004 - The Honda NSX's last hurrah
11 October 1986 - Hyundai's second UK market foray
15 March 1980 - Triumph's TR7 Drophead
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