What is this Mysterious Sports Car Concept that Mercedes Will Debut at Pebble Beach?
We don’t know much yet, but it looks like we’re in for quite the surpriseby Robert Moore, on
The Pebble Beach Concours D’elegance takes place on August 20, so it’s just a matter of weeks before we get to lay eyes on some of the most gorgeous cars in existence. And, while some of our favorite celebrities are sure to make an appearance – think Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jay Leno, among others – we now have word that there will be an all-new sports car concept sporting a Mercedes badge making its world debut. The word comes thanks to a quick post on Instagram and Twitter of a video that gave us a peek inside a secretive meeting at the Advance Design Center in Sindelfingen, Germany.
Of course, the video post left a lot to the imagination and told us very little, but Gorden Wagener – the Chief Designer – says it will be “an icon or the brand” and that it’s sure to be a “big surprise.”
In the video, we can make out a sketch of a wheel that is undoubtedly for the new concept and a somewhat blurry glimpse as a sketch of a car. Unfortunately, however, we can’t make out much of the design cues. We know it will be a sports car, though, and considering they had sketches of the IAA concept, I suspect it will be related to that in one way or another. Wagener did make it a point to tell us that the front end was going to be different, though, so even if it has the same silhouette as the IAA, it will certainly sport some different design cues. So, just what can we expect from Mercedes at Pebble Beach? Well, I have a couple of ideas, so let’s take a look at the video, and talk a little more about it.
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Mystery is Good
First off, I have to say that I love the way Mercedes just gave us a glimpse into the Design Center meeting. It’s not something you normally see from manufacturers and it’s certainly refreshing. But let’s get back to the million-dollar question: What is Mercedes bringing to Pebble Beach?
|Sketches of the upcoming concept car and the concept’s wheel|
As I said before, those screen shots from above don’t yield much in terms of information. But, I think we may see a revamped version of the IAA Concept but, this time around, it won’t be as futuristic and could be representative of a new production model that we’ll get to see sometime in the next two to five years. The front end of the concept is quite beautiful, however, the rear end would absolutely never make it to production. I’m not sure the front end would either, unless it was modified to have more traditional headlights and marker lights. But, that’s easily remedied with minor design changes as to where the rear end would need a lot of extra work.
Space-Age Interior Too?
And, as far as the inside goes, that’s where we’ll see some real drastic changes if my prediction is correct. While things like the seats, center console and even the displays in the dash are feasible with today’s production-ready technology, the excessive and futuristic backlighting of everything from trim seams to the HVAC vents is a bit much and not likely something that would ever make it into production. I would expect the dash to be toned down a bit, too, while all of the thick trim around the pillars in the rear will most certainly be toned down. Plus, that massive screen on the face of the console – yeah; that’ll never see production in this decade. But, the interior of the IAA as shown below could give as a reasonable glimpse as to what we can expect.
Hybrid Drivetrains, Gasoline Monsters… Oh the Possibilites
As far as potential drivetrain options go, Mercedes could go a number of different ways. The Concept IAA was a plug-in hybrid that combined a gasoline motor with at least one electric motor – most likely at the front wheels. We suspect that the drivetrain in the concept was borrowed from the C350 Plug-in Hybrid, but Mercedes failed to supply any specific information outside of its power output of 279 horsepower and that it could reach 155 mph. It was also said to have an all-electric range of just 41 miles. If Mercedes did use the powertrain from the C350, that would have combined a 2.0-liter four-banger with a 6.2 kWh battery and a 7G-Tronic transmission. However, this new concept showing up at Pebble Beach was promised to be a “big surprise,” so I think there will be more to it and it will likely be something that will be shifted into production soon. And, with that in mind, the potential drivetrain options grow.
First off, this will be a genuine sports car, so you can probably count out a sub-400-pony drivetrain. And, with the AMG GT family of vehicles, Mercedes has a potent engine on hand that can be tuned to a wide variety of outputs as you can see in the chart below.
|Mercedes-AMG GT||Mercedes-AMG GT S||Mercedes-AMG GT C||Mercedes-AMG GT R|
|Engine||AMG 4.0-liter V-8||AMG 4.0-liter V-8||AMG 4.0-liter V-8||AMG 4.0-liter V-8|
|Horsepower||469 HP @ 6,000 RPM||515 HP @ 6,250 RPM||550 HP @ 5,750-6,750 RPM||577 HP @ 6,250 RPM|
|Max. torque||465 LB-FT @ 1,700-5,000 RPM||494 LB-FT @ 1,750-4,750 RPM||502 LB-FT 1,900-5,750 RPM||516 LB-FT @ 1,900-5,500 RPM|
|Curb Weight||3,395 Lbs||3,461 Lbs||3,660 Lbs||3,428 Lbs|
|0-60 mph||3.9 seconds||3.7 seconds||3.6 seconds||3.5 seconds|
|Top speed||189 mph||193 mph||196 mph||198 mph|
|Note: The Mercedes GT Roadster is missing from the chart above and delivers 489 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, a mild increase designed to keep it up to par with the base AMG GT Coupe|
So, as you can see, Mercedes has a very resilient engine option just sitting in its stable, ready to make its way into yet another sports car. If the mad scientists at Mercedes can figure out how to hybridize the GT powertrain, then it could very easily deliver a powerful, hybrid sportscar like the world has never seen before. A small battery stashed in the floor and two powerful motors up front seem to be an idea setup – that would give the sports car the benefit of AWD and true torque vectoring. And, with a good energy recovery system, the AWD system could sustain itself without the need to be plugged in or charged on a regular basis. If Mercedes went with the 577-horsepower version from the GT R, and threw in a couple of 100- or 150-horspeower electric motors, it could be one bad ass little sports car. It’ll be expensive, of course, but this is Mercedes we’re talking about, so you can’t expect much less.
Don’t Forget About Merc’s All-Electric Plans
Now, with all of that in mind, we also need to remember that the “Big Surprise” could be more than we really expect. Think about the Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6. Remember that concept from oh not so long ago? That thing was all-electric and offered up more than 200 miles of range – not bad for a heavy car of its size. And, to add to this speculation, Mercedes was planning to have a huge influx of EVs by 2025; one that would account for 25 percent of the company’s total production. That was great and all, and proved that Mercedes was very ambitious with its goals. But, just last March, the company announced that it was speeding up its plans and that those new vehicles would be in production by 2022 – more than enough time for the brand to perfect an all-electric sports car based on the concept we’ll see in Pebble Beach. Along with that announcement was word that the company was investing $1 billion into its battery supply chain.
So, it’s quite possible that this new sports car could also be All-Electric. Mercedes has the technology, and we saw that for sure with the Vision 6 Concept. That could mean that the new sports car could deliver some 737 horsepower from a huge EV drivetrain, which would enable sub-four-second sprints to 60 mph. It will also get a powerful charging system that allows for charging via a charging pad with an electromagnetic field, and a charging capacity of 350 kW, which is enough to increase range the range by 62 miles in just five minutes time. Of course, this is all speculation at this point, but it sounds like a pretty strong possibility considering the developments that have taken place with the company over the last year. We really could be in for quite the surprise.
So, what is Mercedes really going to surprise us with at Pebble Beach? With it be a production-ready concept of the Maybach Vision 6? And all new sports car sporting an AMG GT drivetrain and electric motors? Will it be something all-new that we haven’t even seen yet? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
Read our full review of the 2015 Mercedes Concept IAA
Read our full review for the 2016 Mercedes-Maybach Vision 6 Concept
Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG GT C Coupe.
Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG GT R.
Read our full review on the Mercedes C350 Plug-in Hybrid.