It looks like a globule of mercury, says the BBC.  At different speed levels, the Mercedes S-Class-sized IAA transforms its shape, hunkering down and elongating itself to optimize aerodynamic efficiency.

Introduced at the thus concluded Frankfurt Show, the concept seems inevitable…


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Legendary Car Guy has a personal story: he bought a last generation 1999 Buick Riviera – super-charged.  To engage the super-charger, you pressed the accelerator to the floor [not spasmodically, just purposely].   Two things happened (after a momentary lapse), the car flung itself beyond a double-trailer trucker on a two-lane highway with a murderous chuckle… and before doing so, the suspension dropped for sleekness.

Legendary Car Guy loved that car for reasons he will detail in future posts.  Marital discord made him sell it.  Now he drives the “Ferrari of SUVs“, the Ford Escape.

Below 50 mph, the four-door Mercedes IAA concept projects a teardrop silhouette:  extra long hood and truncated rear. Using sensors throughout, the car’s front flaps, active rims, tail end extension, and other sundry parts will respond to increasing speed.

Above that speed, an eight-part segmented rear-end fairing extends, pushing the car’s length by more than 15 inches. Up front, a fin in the bumper retracts to improve under-body airflow and flaps deploy to more efficiently direct air around the fascia and front wheel arches. Most amazing, the IAA’s active wheel rims flatten, changing their cupping from 2 inches to zero.


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Of course, the IAA features an array of sensors and modules to enable autonomous operation.

BBC points out that Mercedes claim of lowest drag co-efficient as a “world-record breaker” for the Concept IAA is not true.  That claim goes to Ford’s design studies for the Probe IV.  Understood that there are plenty of reasons not to favor the Probe over Mercedes IAA, but the Probe had the same coefficient as the F-16 fighter jet.