by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

The Mercedes-Benz F 125! research vehicle: Exterior design - Expressive and unique / The sporty touring saloon of the future

The F125! represents a radical reinterpretation of a sports saloon. Its sensuous sportiness and dramatic, organic use of body surfaces, including a dropping line, are a pioneering further development of the current Mercedes-Benz design strategy. The two gull-wing doors allow convenient access and egress, also in parking spaces, and their opening mechanism is invisibly integrated into the rear triangular door panel on each side. Dispensing with exterior mirrors and door handles, plus the uninterrupted, single-piece bonnet with integral front wings, reduces the contours to the essential and lowers the drag coefficient. An electrically extending rear luggage module improves access to the boot.

Thanks to an emphatic change in the proportions, with the passenger compartment positioned well forward, the body appears to be cast from a single mould. The front and rear overhangs are reduced to a minimum. This layout allows an extremely long wheelbase which creates room for large gull-wing doors and maximum use of interior space. The gull-wing doors become the characteristic feature of the exterior, as they give access to the passenger compartment along the entire vehicle flank. As a result the exterior and interior appear to blend into an unmistakable and striking overall composition. The lack of a B-pillar also makes for easier access to the rear seats.

Striking front end with distinctive LED headlamps

The front end has sporty proportions and appears harmoniously integrated. It is characterised by an innovative grille set into the front architecture, suggesting the classic Mercedes-Benz radiator grille and ensuring an unmistakable brand signature. This is a meaningful aspect, for thanks to its fuel cell drive system the F 125! requires considerably less intake and cooling air. The completely joint-free bonnet underlines the sporty overall appearance of the vehicle silhouette, and has a dipped centre area. The floating, aerodynamic front wings add visual width to the front section.

The LED headlamps flanking the radiator grille are slim and dynamic in shape, lend a resolute look to the front end and, like numerous other features, convey a high-quality, high-tech impression. The interplay between design, function and energy consumption was optimised during the development process. Low-beam power consumption is 100 watts less than with conventional headlamps.

The bonnet has a stretched look, and dips at the centre. The so-called dropping line extends from the radiator grille and over the front wheels, then descends dramatically towards the rear where it forms a precise edge. Thanks to the alternating concave and convex surface contours, the side wall below the dropping line has an organic, arched effect. This muscular arching increases towards the front, where it envelops the front wheel. The rear axle is spanned by a powerful shoulder, which emerges from the beltline and is aerodynamically and abruptly delineated by the tail lights.

The wheels feature copper-coloured spoke elements, creating associations with the copper wire coils used in electric motors and making a visual reference to the car's drive technology.
Inward-curving, C-shaped tail light clusters add a finishing touch to the rear end which accentuates the width and powerful stance of the car. The centre section of the rear end extends out electrically to give access to the luggage compartment. The lower area at the rear is rounded off by two aerodynamic fins which delineate the visually floating diffuser.

Serene yet dynamic: the F 125! reconciles apparent contradictions

The roof structure emerges organically, the A-pillars growing from the front end like sinews to blend into the roof. The C-pillar supports the roof at the sporty rear end, tapering as it descends in the manner of Mercedes-Benz coupés. The dramatic entry line (E-line), which becomes visible when the doors are opened, forms an elegant curve. The E-line, beltline, dropping line and rising "counter line" of the sill panels are reminiscent of tensed sinews in a muscular body, producing a harmonious overall picture.

The special night design with contour lights running just above the side sills optimises visibility from the side. In the dark the "counter line" becomes a continuous, illuminated blue band for better side visibility. Below the lower door edge, a carbon-fibre faced cover can be seen which surrounds the structure integrated hydrogen composite storage unit positioned behind it.

The design of the F 125! suggests dramatic harmony. Coming together at the front end, the lines accentuate the forward-thrusting, dynamic appearance. "In this way we have created contrasts in the visual perception: calm and quiet, yet dynamic," says Mercedes-Benz Head of Design Gorden Wagener. "The real power lies in the elegant, muscular winds and the wheels: the wheels symbolise electric motors with terminals and coils, and make the drive concept visually tangible as well."

Source: Daimler AG

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