Throughout the past decade or so, Mercedes design has being doing something of a ‘retro’ with an emphasis for swooping lines and flashy chrome but now it looks as though change is on the horizon in the form of the new Aesthetics A Concept. According to New Atlas, anyone who’s taken a look at a recent Merc concept will know creased, edgy designs aren’t exactly in vogue at the moment. The 2015 F015 looks like a jellybean on wheels and the Generation EQ is all about slick, rounded edges. Even the production range, with the exception of the utilitarian G-Class, has moved away from the bluff, upright looks that once defined the brand.

The Aesthetics A takes the current design language and smooths it out even further and rather than adorning the basic shape with unnecessary slashes and creases (‘a la Lexus) Merc has focused on using long, sweeping surfaces and contours to give the design character. Expect to see this shade of red on plenty of cars in future, too, with Mercedes describing it as ‘a new signature’.

For now, Aesthetics A previews the next generation A-Class, but you can expect cues from this dripping red blob of styling to pop up on the C-Class facelift when it arrives. Just don’t expect any slashes or creases.

“Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme. We have the courage to implement this purism. Design is also the art of omission: the days of creases are over,” says a rather self-effacing Gordon Wagener, chief design officer at Daimler.

Source: Daimler/New Atlas.

 

Honda and GM putting more faith in H2 power as Yaris ups the ante in ‘ol faithful

Electric vehicles may well dominate the headlines, but don’t give up on Hydrogen as an alternative to the gas-guzzler. GM and Honda haven’t. In fact, they’ve gone as far as to sign an US$85m deal aimed at mass production of hydrogen fuel cells. And why not? The world is crying out for an alternative to fossil fuels and although range is improving, battery electric vehicles still take a long time to recharge, whereas fuel-cell vehicles can be topped up in a matter of minutes.

Honda and GM first agreed on hydrogen collaboration back in 2013, with the past four years having been spent establishing an arrangement for the next-generation fuel cell and fuel storage technology and pooling resources in a search of a more efficient powertrain. Environmental efficiency is crucial, but the real benefit to the tie-up between the two companies is cost. At the moment, hydrogen fuel cells are expensive to develop and build, which makes them expensive to buy for consumers. With slow sales and a very limited range of cars on the market, refuelling infrastructure is also limited, making it difficult for owners to fully enjoy the driving range of their cars.

By using common suppliers and increasing economies of scale at their Michigan plant, GM and Honda are hoping to drive down production costs. Both will also keep working with governments to grow the infrastructure necessary to make fuel-cell vehicles a viable long-term prospect. All things being equal, mass production of the fuel cell systems is expected to start around 2020.

This isn’t the first time these two brands have dabbled in hydrogen technology. Honda was one of the first to create a consumer-ready hydrogen fuel cell model with the Clarity and Chevrolet has the military ZH2 truck. BMW is also working to develop fuel cell cars, while Hyundai has the fuel cell ix35.

Back at the ranch, Toyota has adds more clout to that ‘old’ technology…In response to tighter emissions regulation, increased congestion and consumer demand for better fuel consumption, it’s not surprising that most manufacturers have been flat out producing downsized versions of the good ’ol ICE. But now Toyota is bucking the trend with the release of a new 1.5ltr engine for the Yaris that is 200cc larger than its predecessor. And it’s also naturally aspirated, ignoring the current focus on strapping a turbocharger onto every available engine block.

Power is up from 63kW (84hp) to 82kW (111hp) and the peak 136Nm of torque is a handy increase of 15Nm on its predecessor. Although the extra power is nice, the real reason for the new engine is the upcoming Euro 6C emissions regulations, along with a new Real Driving Emissions test. To make sure it shines under the strict new conditions, designed to deliver more accurate real-life results, or a way of cutting out mass cheating under the current emissions testing procedure, Toyota has turned to lessons learned while developing petrol engines for its hybrid range.

The engine runs with a sky-high 13.5:1 compression ratio, made possible by new pistons and a new combustion chamber designed to “deliver the perfect air/fuel mixture every time”. A cooled exhaust-gas recirculation system helps lower combustion temperatures in order to eliminate ‘knock’ whilst running such a high compression ratio.

Depending on the type of driving, a variable inlet valve timing system (VVT-iE) allows the new engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson cycles on the fly. Under light loads, the electrically controlled system runs the engine on the Atkinson cycle, keeping the intake valve to open beyond bottom dead centre in the piston stroke. When the driver calls for more performance, it switches back to the Otto cycle.

Source: Toyota

 

How about a 390 km/h ride in a McLaren F1?

As automotive legends go, few can come close to the McLaren F1 for sheer star power. It’s arguably the most significant supercar of the modern era, mixing a BMW V12 engine with a composite body for a staggering 376km/h (240.1 mph) top speed. It’s been 25 years since Andy Wallace completed his record runs at Ehra-Lessien and McLaren has celebrated by diving into the archives for some period footage of the F1 racing into the history books.

 

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