The Mercedes-Benz Vision One-Eleven is simultaneously a nod to a series of iconic concept vehicles, while also a preview of future technology.

    Much as the original C 111 concept of 1969 and its subsequent iterations previewed technology that would later reach production, the Vision One-Eleven employs new powertrain technology.

    A lot has changed since the C 111 concepts, so there’s no mid-mounted rotary, turbo-diesel or petrol engine here. Instead, the Vision One Eleven employs a pair of new axial-flux electric motors supplied by wholly owned subsidiary YASA.

    The company says axial-flux motors are significantly lighter and more compact yet more powerful than the radial-flux motors used in almost all electric cars.

    British firm YASA, which Mercedes-Benz acquired in 2021, also says its motors have higher and more enduring power reserves, which company founder Tim Woolmer says “delivers a whole new level of performance”.

    The axial-flux motors also weigh merely a third of what a current electric motor with the same power output weighs, while taking up one-third of the space.

    Mercedes-Benz says future YASA axial-flux motors will be produced at the Mercedes-Benz Berlin-Marienfelde plant and “will be at the heart of the forthcoming powertrain for the performance segment”.

    The Vision One Eleven also features a “new battery concept” with high-performance liquid-cooled cylindrical cells with “a novel cell chemistry”, with the company tapping the motorsport experts from Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrain in Brixworth to develop the technology.

    The concept is the most extreme example of Mercedes’ “one-bow” exterior design language, as seen on the latest EQ products, with smooth surfaces and plenty of curves.

    The gullwing doors are a nod to not only the C 111 concepts but also the iconic 300 SL, while the side windows uniquely offer a pixelated camouflage.

    Mercedes-Benz says the large-diameter wheels have a design “evocative of electric motor windings”, hinting at what powers the Vision One Eleven.

    The front and rear skirts are finished in matte black, and are visually connected by two “blade profiles” running down the sides of the car with elements backlit in blue.

    Up front, the Vision One-Eleven evokes the C 111 with its round lighting and black air intakes but has a futuristic twist, with the panel incorporating the headlights actually serving as a display with a 3D pixelated look.

    This pixelated look continues at the rear, with round tail lights also integrated into a full-width external display. There’s also a prominent diffuser and blue backlighting.

    It’s finished in a similarly bold orange colour to the original C 111, though Mercedes-Benz says it has a “more powerful” finish that changes with the light.

    Inside, Mercedes-Benz says the concept “presents the first sports car interior with a lounge concept”, reflecting “the paradigm shift from self-driven sports car to autonomous electric vehicle within the super sports car segment [which] unites two completely different states of being”.

    In race mode, the interior is said to be that of a minimalist driving machine, while in lounge mode the diamond-quilted seats are integrated into the “interior sculpture”, which merges the sills, centre tunnel and luggage compartment into a single unit, and the backrests can be adjusted.

    The seat cushions are integrated flush-fit into the floor, to give the impression of a Formula 1 race car. This theme is continued with the orange four-point harnesses.

    The more compact electric motors have allowed the designers to extend the interior rearwards, allowing for a more airy, linge-like cabin.

    Large are finished in white fabric, made from 100 per cent recycled polyester, while elements like the armrests are finished in bright orange leather that’s tanned using coffee bean husks. Polished aluminium trim, used on the steering wheel and pedals among other places, provides further contrast.

    Like the front and rear ends, there’s a full-width pixellated display in the cabin, too – a retro-futuristic take on the MBUX Hyperscreen.

    You mightn’t be able to buy a Vision One Eleven, but Mercedes-Benz will happily sell you some branded merchandise.

    The “exclusive lifestyle collection” consists of an overnight bag, sunglasses, a hoodie, cap and phone cover, all branded Limited Edition 1 of 111. They’re available from August.

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    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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