17 October 2003

Mercedes-Benz is branding this Tokyo show car a technological masterpiece, but our sources say it also lays bare the face of the next S-Class.

The F500 research vehicle measures 54mm longer than the current S at 5092mm, and Mercedes-Benz insiders say the way the concept brings the company nose into the 21st century is a reflection of Stuttgart’s plans for the next luxo-barge, due in less than two years. But the F500’s other purpose is to demonstrate the latest technology Mercedes is developing. It’s powered by a 314bhp diesel hybrid engine that returns a claimed 20 per cent economy improvement over the equivalent CDi on the combined cycle.

New electronic accelerator and brake pedals sit flush to the floor, taking less space than the traditional design, and therefore increasing legroom.

The interior houses the majority of the innovations, including an infra-red night driving system that uses two laser headlights to cast invisible beams 150m in front of the car, projecting the image onto the windscreen via a camera. Merc claims a new ultrasound audio system allows navigation information to be targeted at the driver, while passengers remain undisturbed.

The F500 follows on from the F200 revealed at Paris in 1996, which turned into the CLK, and F400 Carving from Tokyo in 2001, a more radical axle technology showcase styled using the nose from the Mercedes SLR McLaren.

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