When will there finally be a car of reason that also looks reasonable?

    The Mercedes-Benz F800 Style. Our draft for the car of tomorrow.

    The Mercedes-Benz F800 Style.

    When will there finally be a car of reason that also looks reasonable?

    The Mercedes-Benz F800 Style. Our draft for the car of tomorrow.

    The Mercedes-Benz research vehicles are dream cars, built from the dreams and ideas of our designers and engineers. But seldom has a study vehicle been as close to reality as the F800 Style is.

    The plug-in hybrid drive system, for instance, is becoming a reality – it consumes a mere 2.9 l/100 km. The electric motor is even capable of powering the vehicle on its own over short distances; its battery can be charged at any socket, at home or when out and about. The environmentally safe F-CELL version is also becoming a reality. It has a fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electric drive energy – emission- free locally.

    PRE-SAFE® 360° makes accident-free driving ever more likely: when it detects an impending rear impact, it prevents the vehicle from being catapulted forwards. With the Cam- Touch-Pad, attention and eyes remain firmly on the road – even minimal finger movements can operate the display and control system. And thanks to DISTRONIC PLUS with Traffic Jam Vehicle Follow Assist, the F800 Style can automatically follow the vehicle in front in stop-and-go traffic.

    But that’s as far as it goes where following is concerned. The F800 Style is ahead of its time, and in just a few years many of its technologies will enter series production. So Mercedes-Benz continues to set standards with innovations – after all, we have 125 years’ experience of this.

    When will there finally be a car that combines sensuality and sense?

    The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS. The design icon’s success story continues.

    The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS.

    When will there finally be a car that combines sensuality and sense?

    The 2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS. The design icon’s success story continues.

    At the 2003 International Motor Show in Frankfurt the CLS was on everyone’s lips: as a seemingly contradictory study vehicle that nevertheless unleashed passionate enthusiasm. Just one year later it was regarded as a style icon on the world’s roads: an impressive 170,000 units of this vehicle were sold – a vehicle that should actually never have existed, according to strict automotive logic: a four-door coupe? But it was not just the sales figures that proved Mercedes-Benz right, for there was also a particularly nice compliment: the CLS inspired an entire sector virtually on the spot – it founded a whole new segment.

    The redefined sensuous appearance of the “Gran Tourismo for four” clearly bears the signature of Mercedes-Benz’s chief designer, Prof. h. c. Gorden Wagener. It is the first model for which the new Head of Design was responsible from the first draft. He set himself correspondingly high standards: the CLS was to leave its indelible mark on automotive style in the years to follow.

    This would by no means be the first sensational design era to be heralded by Mercedes-Benz: back in 1979 the S-Class of model series W 126 was created under legendary chief designer Bruno Sacco. And the elegance of this vehicle suited the revolutionary 190 very well three years later, too. It was also Sacco who shaped the decisive guiding principles for the Swabian global brand’s design: “A Mercedes-Benz always looks like a Mercedes-Benz.”

    When will there finally be a car that can drive up to 400 kilometres without petrol?

    The Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL. A milestone on the road to emission-free mobility.

    The Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL.

    When will there finally be a car that can drive up to 400 kilometres without petrol?

    The Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-CELL. A milestone on the road to emission-free mobility.

    The exhaust gas of the future changes its state of matter – it turns into pure water. This might sound like an overzealous alchemist’s vision, but soon it could be a fact: the era of fossil fuels is nearing its end, and the propellant of the future is hydrogen. In the fuel cell it reacts with atmospheric hydrogen to become electrical energy – and the aforementioned pure water.

    “Cold combustion” is hot stuff, as vehicles powered with the F-CELL have one major advantage over electric cars, which receive their current from a battery: kilometres. They do not have to be plugged into the socket after just a short journey time – their range is far greater. Stop after stop, Mercedes-Benz F-CELL buses prove just how much energy is stored in hydrogen – they are out providing public transport all day long without refilling. And with its radius of up to 400 kilometres, the B-Class F-CELL, too, is suitable for everyday use and over long distances.

    The challenge facing us today involves creating an infrastructure: filling stations at which hydrogen produced in an environmentally friendly way can be topped up. This might sound more like fiction than science – but where would we be today if Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz had been put off by the lack of petrol filling stations?

    Fuel consumption urban/extra-urban/combined: 1.01/0.94/0.97 kg H2/100 km, CO2 emissions combined: 0.0 g/km. The figures are not based on an individual vehicle and do not constitute part of the product offer; they are provided solely for purposes of comparison between different vehicle models.

    When will there finally be a compact car that is as safe as a large one?

    The 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190. The first compact Mercedes model.

    The 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190.

    When will there finally be a compact car that is as safe as a large one?

    The 1982 Mercedes-Benz 190. The first compact Mercedes model.

    When it first arrived on the scene, the forerunner of the C-Class was dubbed “Baby Benz” by the press because of its unusually economical dimensions – but it performed impeccably and went on to enjoy a great career, for it precisely reflected the spirit of the times. Whilst customers in the Helmut Kohl era still valued the proverbial Mercedes safety and quality just as much as before, they now wanted their cars to be more compact, sportier. Understatement was the order of the day.

    In line with these wishes, the 190’s design radically broke existing habits. In spite of some initial scepticism, it sold extremely well, and became one of the most successful models. This was mainly due to the safety standards, which were unusually high for a compact vehicle – indeed, they were every bit as good as the famous S-Class’s. And it was sporty, too: a new wheel suspension – shock absorber strut independent front suspension with anti-dive control, and multi-link independent rear suspension – offered superb handling.

    The 190 E 2.3-16 represented a milestone in the model series, bringing new sporty glamour with its 136 kW four-cylinder engine and the characteristic jaunty rear spoiler. It proved its excellent performance with a sensational world record on the high-speed test track in Nardo, Italy: 50,000 kilometres nonstop at an average of nearly 250 km/h.

    When will there finally be a car whose wheels don’t lock during a full brake application?

    The 1978 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The world’s first car with ABS.

    The 1978 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

    When will there finally be a car whose wheels don’t lock during a full brake application?

    The 1978 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The world’s first car with ABS.

    The situation is alarming: during braking the wheels lock on slippery ground, steering has no effect and the vehicle is uncontrollable. Until the 1960s there was only one effective remedy: what was known as “cadence braking”. This involved stepping on the brake pedal, releasing during locking, braking again, releasing the locking brake, braking. It soon becomes obvious just from reading about it that even experienced drivers usually found this all too much.

    What was needed was an electronic system that automatically took care of these difficult procedures for the driver with great precision. In the mid-1960s such an invention at last became technically possible. Without a moment’s hesitation Mercedes-Benz drove forward the development of the world’s first electronically controlled anti-lock braking system (ABS) together with Bosch. Some 200 lavishly equipped test cars accelerated and braked their way over several million test kilometres. The breakthrough finally came in 1978: the ABS reached production maturity and was immediately used in what was then regarded as the best car in the world – in the W 116 model-series S-Class.

    Since 1992 all Mercedes-Benz models have been fitted with ABS as standard. At the crucial moment it prevents wheel lock, so the driver remains in control at all times when braking and steering.

    When will there finally be a car built to last a lifetime?

    The 1968 Mercedes-Benz “Stroke/8”. One of the most reliable cars in the world.

    The 1968 Mercedes-Benz “Stroke/8”

    When will there finally be a car built to last a lifetime?

    The 1968 Mercedes-Benz “Stroke/8”. One of the most reliable cars in the world.

    It must be love when men start using pet names. For admirers of the “Stroke/8” the devotion began in 1968, the year of its market launch. The penchant would last an unusually long time, sometimes virtually an entire lifetime, as models of the W 114/W 115 series with the famous “/8” in their name were known above all for one particular trait: their indestructible reliability.

    This endearing characteristic was proven in the most spectacular fashion by Gregorios Sachinidis, a taxi driver from Thessaloniki. Over the years he covered 4.6 million kilometers in his 240 D from the “Stroke/8” series – equivalent to driving around the earth nearly 115 times.

    To this day you can still see the occasional “Stroke/8” gracing the roads. For many enthusiasts its hallmark design is the ultimate in style, elegance and class – even though the spectrum of admirers was always surprisingly heterogeneous: the population of rural regions in the South of Germany was just as enthusiastic as Hamburg’s squatting fraternity.

    With all these emotions flying around it can be all too easy to forget that this vehicle also had plenty to offer from a technical point of view – the diagonal swing axle, for instance, and the foot-operated parking brake, which superseded the pistol-grip handbrake.

    When will there finally be a car that will be legendary right from the word go?

    The 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Back then the most innovative sports car in the world.

    The 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.

    When will there finally be a car that will be legendary right from the word go?

    The 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Back then the most innovative sports car in the world.

    It was iconic before it had even been built: as a racing car the 300 SL finished the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans with a one-two victory. It was immortalised for ever more later that same year, when it was also first to cross the finishing line at the murderous Carrera Paname ricana in Mexico. After that, everyone wanted it: from Pablo Picasso to Sophia Loren and Henri Nannen – hardly anyone could resist the production version of this super sports car with its novel gullwing doors. They were all filled with enthusiasm by what was undoubtedly the most spectacular way of getting into a car – if not exactly the most comfortable.

    Hidden beneath the exciting surface was something equally out of the ordinary: the world’s first direct petrol injection for a four-stroke engine, for instance. It was thanks to this that its 3-litre six-cylinder in-line unit was capable of up to 158 kW and a top speed of 250 km/h. That much power and speed were nothing short of sensational for a passenger car officially licensed in accordance with German road traffic regulations.

    In a short space of time the 300 SL became the dream car of the 1950s. A dream that cost 29,000 marks and came true for 1400 lucky people. A worthwhile investment – from a retrospective point of view, too: today the gullwing model’s value has increased many times over.

    When will there finally be a car that combines sportiness with elegance?

    The 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster. One of the most exciting cars of its day.

    The 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster.

    When will there finally be a car that combines sportiness with elegance?

    The 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster. One of the most exciting cars of its day.

    In the late 1920s powerful touring cars shaped Mercedes-Benz’s image. They reached incredible speeds of nearly 200 km/h and triumphed as racing versions that were even faster. But this much sheer muscle power was just too raw, too coarse, too primeval for the country outings of customers used to travelling in luxury. A cultivated successor had to be found. 

    In contrast to the chauffeur-driven models that still represented the norm in those days, the impressive, fashionable 500 K appealed to the well-heeled owner-drivers (also commonly referred to as “gentlemen drivers”). No fewer than nine different body variants meant that potential customers were spoiled for choice: would they prefer a saloon or a touring car? The avant-garde “Autobahnkurier”? Or maybe one of the three cabriolets? Perhaps a two-seater coupe or a sports roadster? But the most elegant model of them all was the Special Roadster. It is considered to be one of the finest-looking cars ever made.

    Beneath its breathtaking exterior the 500 K boasted the very best those times had to offer: independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, an eight-cylinder in-line engine with overhead valves and an engageable belt-driven supercharger. But it was the fact that only 29 500 K Special Roadsters ever left the plant that constituted the ultimate in exclusivity. It comes as no surprise, then, that well-maintained specimens are today deemed to be valuable works of art.

    When will there finally be a vehicle that no longer has to be pulled by horses?

    The 1886 Benz patent motor car: the world’s first car.

    The 1886 Benz patent motor car: the world's first car.

    When will there finally be a vehicle that no longer has to be pulled by horses?

    The 1886 Benz patent motor car: the world’s first car.

    If truth be told, before this date there had already been “auto-mobiles” powered by steam or electricity. But not only did Karl Benz hit upon the brilliant idea of using an internal combustion engine as the drive system for a “self-mover”; he was also the first to have the tenacity to secure success for the invention. On 29 January 1886 he presented his stroke of genius at the Imperial Patent Office – the car was born.

    His single-cylinder 4-stroke engine with a displacement of 0.954 of a litre anticipated elements still found in every internal combustion engine to this day: a crankshaft with balance weights, electric ignition and water cooling: enough to generate 0.55 kW and a top speed of 16 km/h, virtually corresponding to the power of a whole horse. Snorting loudly and hissing terrifyingly, the newfangled motor car must have seemed like the work of the devil to some back then.

    Anyone brave enough to try out Benz’s invention was a true pioneer, for there was no road network, there were no workshops, and they had to forge their own replacement parts. Nevertheless, no less than 25 production-version units of the patent motor car were sold.

    Daimler built his “motorised carriage” that same year. Benz initially had a slight edge over Daimler, but then Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft designed a car that was a model for the industry, going down in history as a “Mercedes”.