Lotus will Lend a Hand in Developing Upcoming Mercedes Hypercar
German automaker is playing its cards right by adding Lotus in the projectby Kirby Garlitos, on
Mercedes-AMG’s plan to build a Formula One-inspired hypercar is apparently going to come with some tuning assistance from Lotus. The exact details of Lotus’ involvement wasn’t made clear, but a source has told Autocar that the British automaker’s participation in the high-profile project will largely revolve around establishing a chassis setup that will make the hypercar, codenamed the R50, well suited for driving in road conditions.
Keep in mind that if Lotus really is involved in the project, it reportedly isn’t the first time that the two automakers have broken tech bread together. The same source indicated that Lotus has already been involved in the chassis tuning of another recent Mercedes performance model, which likely points to the just-unveiled AMG GT R.
The involvement of Lotus is critical in the overall makeup of the R50 as the British automaker is largely regarded as one of the best in the business in creating some of the best handling cars in the world. Granted, it hasn’t been involved in a project as high-stakes as the one Mercedes is developing, but it does have the support of the German automaker’s own team of engineers and developers, who themselves are no slouches when it comes to developing high-performance machines.
As for the car itself, it is believed to already be in the early stages of physical development. The body itself will be built using a carbon fiber monocoque similar to the one Mercedes is using on its WO7 Formula One race car. Likewise, the F1 influence doesn’t end there as certain hardware and software systems will also be used on the R50. What’s unclear at this point is the specific details regarding the car’s powertrain. The German automaker has made no announcements pertaining to any details about the car, but a previous report from Top Gear indicated that Mercedes is considering a hybrid powertrain made up of a three electric motors and a heavily modified version of the current engine being used on the W07 racer.
No timetable has been set on when the R50 is going to make its debut, although there’s strong sentiment that Mercedes is preparing the car specifically as a special project to commemorate AMG’s 50th anniversary in 2017.
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Why it isn’t Crazy
I know some of you are wondering what business Lotus has in helping Mercedes develop its F1-inspired hypercar. It does sound ridiculous on the surface, but it’s far from it if you know Lotus’ reputation as one of the best in the business in terms of creating ideal handling and balance of their sports cars.
I’ve personally driven a Lotus Elise, and while it didn’t exactly blow me away in straight-line speed, it was an absolute dream to drive on corners. The car stuck to the road beautifully and at no point did I experience any sort of wiggle brought about by any understeer. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it had a tremendous amount of balance and the suspension matched extremely well to its power, making it very quick, agile, and light. Those are three qualities that I prefer more than over-the-top speed.
So yes, that’s why I think Mercedes tapped Lotus to work on the R50’s handling. As fast and as powerful as Mercedes wants the hypercar to be, it’s going to be difficult to corral if it doesn’t have the kind of chassis and suspension characteristics that will be able to handle all that power. Mercedes could have probably done all of that work by itself because it’s Mercedes. But if it really wanted a car that maximized its full potential, there’s no shame in asking for help from the automaker that has built a reputation for being one of the best, if not the outright best in developing sports cars that put the “fun” in them.
Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG Hypercar here.