Rinspeed Presto Concept (2002)
Rinspeed Presto Concept
The Rinspeed Presto transforms itself in a few seconds from an under-3-meter long two-seater roadster - presto! - into a 3.7-meter long four-seater with plenty of room for the rear-seat passengers. The additional space can also be used as a pick-up bed for cargo when the rear-seat backrests are folded down.
The magical trick
This almost magical transformation is made possible by a centrally located electric motor, which stretches the vehicle with the help of two mechanical screw-and-nut gears by exactly 746 millimeters to its full extended length of 3.74 meters. The longitudinal members run on low-friction precision rollers and disappear like a drawer in the rear of the floor pan. Despite its variable length the engineers succeeded in designing the adjustable Presto floor pan with the torsional rigidity necessary for a roadster. To ensure absolute operational safety the extension mechanism also features self-locking safety latches.
The environment friendly propulsion
A four-cylinder, 1.7-liter common-rail turbo diesel engine in dual-fuel configuration, based on a Mercedes-Benz engine, provides future-oriented and highly environmentally friendly propulsion. The engine runs on a mixture of natural gas and Diesel fuel at a 40 to 60 ratio. Natural gas is a very clean-burning fuel, which consists almost entirely of methane with sulfur content near zero. However, since a Diesel engine has no spark plug to act as an ignition source, operation on natural gas alone is technically impossible.
The operating principle of the dual-fuel engine is simple: Natural gas is injected into the intake air of the engine. Just like in the production engine the Diesel fuel is injected into the combustion chamber where it ignites a mixture of natural gas and air rather than just plain air.
To configure the turbocharged in-line engine for dual-fuel operation, a number of modifications are required, including installation of a tank for the natural gas and a gas-injection system. At the heart of the modifications is a reprogrammed engine management system. Should the system malfunction it reverts to the standard Diesel mapped ignition, thus offering the same level of reliability as the production car.
This technology has enormous potential for reducing exhaust emissions and fuel consumption. Emissions of nitrous oxides and carbon dioxide can be lowered by as much as 10 percent compared to the already extraordinary low level of the production engine. Particulate matter emissions can be lowered by up to 40 percent. With emissions this low the dual-fuel engine easily meets all existing and currently planned emission limits. Fuel consumption can be improved by up to 10 percent compared to a production engine.
The dual-fuel engine is compelling proof that environmental protection and driving fun can go hand-in-hand: The four-valve engine develops maximum power output of 120 hp / 88 kW at 4'200 rpm, and produces maximum torque of 224 Nm at just 1'600 rpm. Performance is boosted accordingly: The 865-kg quick-change artist accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in approximately 10.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of approximately 180 km/h.
Give me a smile
From the first glance the smiling face of the Presto is universally appealing. The contoured drooping hood sports a mouth-shaped front grill whose upturned corners definitely appear to signal 'Hi - I am in a good mood.' The body of the Presto itself tapers off into a front spoiler, a bumper in the traditional sense of the term is non-existent. The headlights of the Presto come from the Mercedes C-Class sports coupe.
In its role as a quick, highly maneuverable city speedster the Presto appears stocky yet sporty, thanks to extremely short front and rear overhangs. With a wheelbase of 1'750 millimeters and an overall length of 2.99 meters it can fit even in the smallest parking spaces.
As a four-seater with a wheelbase of 2'496 millimeters the roadster appears much sleeker, poised to strike. The Remus side pipes are more than just a sporty styling element. They also allowed the engineers to avoid a variable and complicated exhaust routing. During the transformation process the body glides past the side pipes with interference. Since the Presto does not have any doors, the upper side pipes are designed to swing out and make entering and exiting the vehicle easier for the little ones.
The entire body of the Presto consists of Pre-Preg-Composite, a modern plastic material rarely used in vehicle design for cost reasons. It offers extraordinary stability at comparatively low weight.
Show me the way
The creators of the Presto came up with a very special solution for the vehicle rear and front: Instead of conventional light signals the Rinspeed Presto informs other drivers in writing about the intent of its driver. The innovative lighting technology with powerfully bright LED lights is contributed by in.pro. During braking the international word 'Stop' appears on the brake lights, and during turns 'Turn' appears on the appropriate signal. With lights turned on, the taillights proclaim the vehicle's name, 'Presto', to those who follow. A color camera integrated into the taillights reveals any potential obstacles to the driver in the rearview mirror.
The Presto shows its noble heritage in the interior, too. The dashboard comes from the A-Class and the seats are from the smart. The fiery-orange interior is as versatile as the body. The comfortable two-seater turns into a spacious pick-up or four-seater roadster at the push of a button. The rear-seat passengers can enjoy more leg room than in an A-Class with long wheelbase. In addition, the rear seats can be folded down individually and make almost any interior configuration possible.
Exclusive reflective upholstery materials from Xmobil create an eye-catching yet comfortable atmosphere. Entertainment in hi-fi quality is provided by a Sony stereo system whose sound is transmitted via wireless headphones. Foliatec contributed many clever styling elements for the interior as well as the exterior.
A Meta-Sat anti-theft system gives thieves no chance. With GSM and satellite wireless communications the Rinspeed Presto can be traced, located and immobilized by remote control. The Meta-Sat system is combined with a keyless-entry system from in.pro., which deactivates the security system from a distance of 10 feet.
Tires and more
The Rinspeed Presto runs on one-piece Antera wheels (7.5x17 with a offset of 17 mm in front, 8.5x17 with 52 mm offset in the rear), on the front axle individually suspended on custom-developed Eibach springs. In the rear a semi-independent suspension also feature custom Eibach springs. To complement the low-emission nature of the Presto, Rinspeed designers chose SportContact 2 tires by Continental (205/50 front and 235/45 rear), which underscore their fuel-saving bionic design with green tire treads.
Rinspeed-C.E.O. Frank M. Rinderknecht used highly advanced technology and a Swiss-based network of automotive and natural-gas specialists (Gasverbund Mittelland AG and SVGW) for his project. Although there is no automobile production in Switzerland to speak of, there is a very active automotive supply industry there. Many highly innovative prototypes have been developed and manufactured in Switzerland. The competent team translated initial sketches into a fully functional prototype in just four months.