EVEN though we knew what it looked like, the Mercedes-Benz F 015 provided one the biggest “what the!?” moments of 2017 when it arrived at Wheels HQ earlier this week.
Delivered in secret, on the back of an enclosed truck to be photographed for our next magazine, the sleek silver concept looked more like a spaceship than a car when it finally rolled into our carpark.
Wedging it alongside our regular array of Mazdas, Toyotas and Fords only exacerbated the extra-terrestrial vibe: with its shining bodywork, girthy wheelbase and closed in glass-house the F 015 looked extraordinary.
This, of course, is exactly what Mercedes-Benz intended.
First revealed at the CES technology summit in Las Vegas, the F 015 represents Mercedes’ thoughts about what the luxury car will look like in 2030.
An important distinction to note; Benz says this is not a concept car, but rather a “research car”, so instead of previewing a future production model’s design, it’s more of a technology showcase.
Propulsion comes from a hydrogen fuel cell supported by two electric motors and, having ourselves manoeuvred it around, we can attest that it is indeed a runner.
Range is a claimed 1100km and it’s no slouch, with a 0-100km/h claim of 6.7sec and a theoretical top speed of 200km/h. These numbers are harder to believe.
The assumption that Level 5 autonomy will be commonplace by 2030 dictates the interior design, where a collapsible steering wheel and four rotating lounge chairs nestle inside a ring of touchscreens built into the doors and dashboard.
It’s a richly trimmed and suitably futuristic place to sit, but not exactly what you’d call quiet. Firing the F 015 into life requires the switch of a plug hidden under the rear bodywork and while the electric motors themselves are silent, the on-board systems require so much computing power that the roar of cooling fans fills the aural void usually occupied by an internal combustion engine.
It’s a rare opportunity to be able to poke, prod and play with such a rare and expensive concept, so watch the video for the full experience. And be sure to grab our next issue, which we’re calling the Future Edition, on December 14 to see what role the F 015 plays in Wheels’ forward vision of the roads and cars to come in 10, 20 and 30 years’ time.