A super-sleek advanced plug-in hybrid with the ability to change its aerodynamic profile on the fly, the Mercedes-Benz IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) Concept made its world debut in Frankfurt. Slightly larger than the current CLS-Class, this coupe-like 4-door is rumored to preview a number of design elements we could see in future CLS and E-Class models as well as subsequent M-B products.

Shape-shifting stunner 

A product of "systematic digital networking," the Concept IAA is wrapped in striking bodywork that has a low 0.25 coefficient of drag. But as dramatic as it appears standing still, this Mercedes study comes to life when it reaches a speed of roughly 50 mph. At that point, the car transitions from "design mode" to "aerodynamic mode," a process that sees eight articulated elements in the tail section extend by nearly 16 inches while the flaps in the front bumper deploy to improve airflow around the nose and wheel arches, a supplemental front louver retracts to enhance underbody airflow and Active Rims reconfigure to further clean up the profile. The net result is a 0.19 Cd, a figure Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche say is "a world record for a 4-door coupe."

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A similar kind of operating efficiency is found under the Concept IAA's flowing hood. A gas-electric hybrid package that teams M-B's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with an 80-hp motor to develop 275 combined horsepower allows the car to reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Pure electric range of the Concept IAA is 39 miles in design mode and 41 in aero mode. 

An inside view of the future

The 4-passenger cabin of the Concept IAA also displays plenty of new ideas. And here, too, Zetsche advises: "Take a very close look, because you're going to see elements of this design soon in a new Mercedes-Benz sedan." Dramatically expanding on basic themes from the current S-Class, the dramatic selection of colors and materials is complemented by greater emphasis on touch-based controls to enhance functionality without increasing driver distraction. An example is found in the new multifunction steering wheel that replaces conventional buttons with touch-sensitive "Optical Finger Navigation (OFN) controls. These OFN buttons allow the driver to more easily scroll through menus that appear in the main instrument display. The Concept IAA also boasts the latest in Car-to-X communication technology.

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"Captivatingly sporty lines and fascinating technical solutions, the Concept IAA symbolizes the emotional core of Mercedes-Benz: The best or nothing," noted Daimler AG board member Ola Källenius at the reveal. "And it shows in a host of details what our customers can look forward to in future production models."

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