We searched long and hard for a statement that could sum up the Mercedes-Benz F800 Style concept in the extremely lengthy press release before chancing upon this: “The F800 Style is both a technology platform and a showcar”. Stuttgart calls the F800 Style, which will make its world premiere in Geneva, a “research vehicle” that previews not only the design path Mercedes is heading in, but eco-friendly tech for the future.

Let’s start with the styling bit. The F800 Style wears the wide grille, big logo face of the SLS AMG, in turn inspired by the classic “Gullwing”, which is the look we can expect from future Mercs (the mysterious unnamed sculpture they showed at the Detroit show had the same nose). Design boss Gorden Wagener has confirmed this with Autocar UK, adding that the first production car to sport the new look will be the next CLS, set for launch later this year. Besides the front design, the rear horizontal light bar also pays homage to the 300SL. Wagener adds that although Mercedes uses past designs as inspiration, they will never do “retro”, “trendy” or “sacrifice design for aerodynamics”. We can also look forward to all future Mercs having LED daytime running lights, although they aren’t meant to look aggressive.

The “technology platform” bit is held up by two advanced propulsion proposals – plug-in hybrid and fuel cell. The former combines a 300 bhp V6 petrol engine with a hybrid module rated at 109 bhp. The lithium-ion batteries with a storage capacity of over 10 kWh can be recharged either at a charging station or a household power socket, and can solely power the car for up to 30 km. Claimed fuel consumption is 34.5 km/l coupled to CO2 emissions of only 68 g/km. Performance isn’t sacrificed for this – 0-96 km/h is done in 4.7 seconds while top speed is 250 km/h. In electric mode, maximum velocity is 120 km/h. This system will be launched together with the next-gen S-Class.

Next up is fuel cell tech. The fuel cell generates current by chemically reacting hydrogen with oxygen, producing water vapor as the only emission. The components of the fuel cell drive are not new; Mercedes already has them installed in the limited edition B-Class F-CELL. However, unlike the front-wheel drive B-Class, the rear driven F800 has the fuel cell located in the front, while the compact electric motor (136 bhp, 290 Nm) is installed near the rear axle. Mercedes intends to show the flexibility of its F-CELL system, which can be used for different drive configurations.

On the safety front, Distronic Plus Traffic Jam Assistant makes its debut. A development of the existing Distronic Plus, this new system allows the F800 to automatically follow the vehicle in front of it into curves. It’s capable of recognising the difference between driving along curved roads and turning, which means it does not “blindly” follow the vehicle up in front – for example, when it changes lanes in order to exit the highway. The result is that at speeds of up to about 40 km/h, Traffic Jam Assistant can steer the car by itself. If that’s too scary a prospect, drivers can override the system at any time.

Also new is PRE-SAFE 360°, which anticipates another vehicle potentially crashing into it from behind. It reacts by engaging the brakes around 600 milliseconds before a rear-end collision occurs. Mercedes says that the key advantage of this is that braking one vehicle helps prevent secondary accidents such as those that occur when the car is pushed uncontrolled into an intersection or a pedestrian crossing, for instance.

More pictures after the jump.

[zenphotopress number=999 album=855]