Joystick-Based Mercedes F200 Imagination Seen With Multiple Screens

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Tesla generated a lot of controversy with its yoke, but Mercedes had a wilder steering wheel replacement. 26 years ago, the F200 Imagination concept was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show as part of the “F” series of research vehicles. The most unusual gimmick is represented by a pair of Sidesticks, with one mounted on the driver’s door and the other on the center console. You can see this guy using it to maneuver the car.

A fully functional concept filmed arriving at the London Concours with one feature you’ll only find in a few production cars today. Just like the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Honda E, Lexus ES, and several others, it eliminates the traditional rearview mirror by adopting a camera. An inside view of the cabin reveals two outer screens that provide footage from the camera as part of a multi-view setup – think Hyperscreen from 1996.

From windows and knee airbags to bi-xenon headlights, the F200 is the tour de force of technology. It even has an early version of Mercedes active suspension (Active Body Control) as well as voice recognition (Linguatronic). Much of this stuff eventually made its way to production cars, including the electro-transparent panoramic roof that the Maybach 62 received.

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The Imagination concept is rarely filmed after its debut and it reminds us of how it styled the CL-Class (C215) and S-Class (W220). Koenigsegg-style doors were also part of the party, and Mercedes gave it a camera on the rear bumper while an additional four were mounted in the corners of the swoopy roof. At the rear, the taillights feature curved neon tubes.

For those wondering what the F200’s power is, Mercedes is giving it a naturally aspirated V12 engine with 394 hp and 570 Nm (420 lb-ft), which is channeled to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission.

Imagination did not reinvent the wheel, but rather predicts drive-by-wire technology, wide-screen dashboards, rear cameras, and many other features we now take for granted.

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