Future Cars

Mercury Meta One Concept

Mercury will build a new production crossover in 2007, and the Meta One concept is one of our first glimpses at what it could be. For an even earlier preview of the Mercury crossover, look no further than the current Ford Freestyle, on which the Meta One is based.

The hybrid Mercury concept is powered by the twin-turbo 2.7-liter diesel engine (from the European-spec Jaguar S-type) plus a 35 kW electric motor in the modular hybrid transmission. The electric motor assists a great deal during initial acceleration, the time when a diesel emits the dirtiest air. The pair produces a whopping 427 lb-ft of torque at 1900 rpm to go along with 248 hp at 4000 rpm.

The fairly aggressive lines of the exterior do a decent job disguising its Freestyle roots, but the Meta One’s main function seems to be showcasing developmental-stage safety technologies.

A lane departure warning system notifies the driver if the vehicle leaves its lane without a turn signal via a camera system mounted behind the windshield. The system monitors a vehicle’s relative position to the road’s land markings.

The Meta One also shows off the “Collision Mitigation by Braking” system, developed together with the folks at the Volvo Safety Center. If the system’s camera, radar, and an on-board computer detect that a frontal collision is about to occur, it will apply automatic braking (“[reducing] vehicle speed by five miles per hour or more”) to help lessen the speed and energy of the crash.

Both systems are designed to give the driver ultimate authority, but the idea of the car braking for us is a little too Orwellian.

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