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reprinted from Automotive Engineering, July 1998

F200 and F300: Study models for vehicle control and dynamics

Advance vehicle project
F300 "Life Jet" lean car.

The F200 Imagination is a concept vehicle, some of whose styling cues should show up on the forthcoming S-class replacement. The car was designed in the Daimler-Benz Advance Design Studio in Tokyo under the guidance of Olivier Boulay.

Technologically, the F200's one unique feature is its electronic "joystick" control of steering, acceleration, and braking. A total of four side-sticks perform the functions. The central double-sticks are on the console, which can be reached by the occupant of either side. Now, those occupants may be either right- or left-handed, so additional sticks are placed on the left and right doors. The F200 is fitted with the Active Body Control (ABC) system, which compensates the vehicle's rolling motions via dynamically adjustable hydraulic cylinders at the wheels. The spring and shock absorber characteristics are continuously adapted to the current driving situation.

front suspension
F300's front suspension system.

The F300 Life-Jet is a tandem two-seat, three-wheeler powered by the A-class' 1.6-L, 75-kW, inline four-cylinder engine driving the single rear wheel. The vehicle achieves outstanding fuel efficiency, 5.3 L/100 km on premium-grade gasoline on the European driving cycle, and its emissions are 40% below the current Euro Step-2 limits.

The F300 is a "lean" machine that leans into a corner, rather than out of it as with normal vehicles, by the Active Tilt (ATC) system. Its center of gravity is shifted to the inside of the curve, thereby compensating for the tipping moment. Daimler-Benz claims that the F300 generates a maximum lateral acceleration of 0.9 g.

Jack Yamaguchi