The unusual boxfish served as the design inspiration for the Mercedes-Benz Bionic Car, a highly aerodynamic concept vehicle unveiled by DaimlerChrysler AG at its recent Innovation Symposium exposition in Washington, D.C.

“Our engineers thought about the exciting idea of combining the aerodynamics of a fish with the look of a car,” says Thomas Weber, head of research and development for the Mercedes Car Group.

The sleek, front-drive, 4-door van, which was developed in about three months, boasts a slick 0.19 coefficient of drag. It squeezes out 70 mpg (3.4 L/100 km) from its 4-cyl. diesel engine that is teamed with a urea catalytic converter.

“The backbone of this powertrain is — according to our diesel offensive in the U.S. — a highly efficient common-rail diesel engine,” Weber says.