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Mercedes design for the new millenium


ConceptFascination sure is fascinating

Mercedes-Benz takes the wraps off its ConceptFascination design study at the Paris Motor Show at the beginning of October.

The German car maker says the vehicle’s unconventional proportions “interpret the emotional appeal of a coupe in a new way”, and evoke memories of the shooting brake wagons of the 1930s.

And it says the car’s lines “represent an exciting and intelligent combination of sporty and elegant design with stylish practicality”. Wood, aluminium and smoked glass adorn the luggage compartment, which incorporates a refrigerated compartment and a humidor as well as offering a large load space.

Mercedes says the ConceptFascination is designed to provide a high level of practical usability in a coupe that “appeals to the heart with fast, thrilling lines”.

Mercedes sees the design as a 21st century take on a traditional though nowadays seldom seen type of car, the shooting brake station wagon.

It gave its designers a free hand, allowing them to throw away the specifications book.

Mercedes chairman, Dr Dieter Zetsche, says the concept “offers a completely new interpretation of the coupe”.

The design study’s elongated body is dominated by the dynamic front-to-rear sweep of its lines, designed to give it a dynamically charged look. That impression is emphasised by the long, frameless, side-window line that creates a continuous arc from front to rear, uninterrupted by a B-pillar.

As a result, the large load space in the rear is integrated in the vehicle body cohesively and harmoniously while also creating the impression of length and a remarkable sense of light.

The side windows can be lowered completely – a feature of every Mercedes-Benz coupe – to provide an uninterrupted view of the stylish way in which fine materials have been used inside the vehicle.

A sense of forward-flowing energy is created by the wedge-shaped profile of the design study. The sides are structured by taut, clearly defined lines that grow out of the surfaces organically and disappear back into them in the same subtle way. Sensitively sculpted surfaces, alternately concave and convex, are defined by the shoulder line and undercut feature line with an additional line to form a gentle yet pronounced linear flow, complemented by an intriguing interplay of light effects. In short, flowing surfaces and arching structures create compelling forms.

The wheel arches are powerfully sculpted. In the rear fenders, the rounded treatment of the flared arches is characterised by a degree of almost sensual exuberance – a classic Mercedes-Benz design element of the past.

To maintain the flow of the surfaces and edges, the door handles are visually extended rearward of the doors into the sides of the vehicle.

The distinctive front section remains loyal to the dual headlight face, but interprets it in a more contemporary way.

The now rhomboid headlights, which are set against a grey background, reveal the fascinating technical details of the light units that feature the latest LED technology as well as C-shaped fibre-optic inserts, which serve as discreet running lights.

The bonnet has pronounced contours with a central ridge that picks up the V-shape of the front end and continues it along the vehicle body.

Powerfully framed, the single-louvre radiator grille with the central Mercedes star makes a very dominant and expressive statement of the brand identity.

A distinctive front apron with a small double-wing assembly at the base gives this car a wide, confident stance.

In the front apron, a fine chrome trim strip runs all round the lower body of the vehicle and at the front, LED foglights are set into this strip.

The forward-sloping rear also has a pronounced V-shape and features a spoiler, below which the third brake light is reflected in the rear window.

Flat, horizontal LED lights extend around the back, linking it visually with the sides, and emphasising the width. In a styling move both clever and extremely harmonious, the undercut surround of the redesigned taillights flows into the rear fenders.

The rear is completed by a small additional wing framed by four exhaust tailpipes.

A large panoramic glass roof and the arc described by the uninterrupted side-window line bring a sense of light to the interior, and help it to merge with the exterior.

Fine materials, such as leather, wood and aluminium, as well as high-quality woven fabrics and many carefully crafted details are used in the interior.

The range of materials is inspired by the world of equestrianism. Recalling the look and feel of a saddle; thick, dark leather covers the aluminium centre console.

Like a bridge extending from the front to the rear, the console spans the space between the four sporty individual seats and translates the taut lines of the exterior to the interior of the vehicle with minimalist elements.

Leather also covers the upper section of the dashboard while its supple, flowing character means that it also lends itself to enhancing the look and feel of the door armrests.

Contrast is provided by light, fine nubuck leather, which is used for the other surfaces and the four individual seats as well as by the deep-pile carpet with heavy fibres. The seat centre panels are covered in strong, high-quality fabric. Trim strips in American walnut with a fine chrome surround complete the portfolio of materials.

The characteristic V-shape of the exterior is picked up by the dashboard, the styling evokes a dynamic wing and features an instrument cluster with five tubes and silver dials. Carefully crafted details give the load compartment what Mercedes calls “a particularly luxurious and surprising character”.

The floor of the load compartment, which measures about one metre square, is made of wood with brushed aluminium protective rails.

Folding up the floor at the left and right sides reveals two compartments containing two sets of binoculars as well as a high-quality digital camera with interchangeable Leica lenses – the perfect equipment for a day at the races.

The centre of the load compartment is occupied by a folding smoked glass table that rises out of the floor at the touch of a button to reveal a compartment housing a humidor. The table can also be pulled to the rear for easier access from outside.

Doing so provides access to a refrigerated compartment for drinks and champagne flutes. The smoked glass can then be folded up at left and right to allow the vehicle occupants to enjoy a picnic in a stylish and refined ambience. 

The car’s mechanical underpinnings come from the future E-Class Coupé and include the new four-cylinder diesel engine, which features BlueTEC and AdBlue technology and develops 204 horsepower from a displacement of 2.2 litres.

Mercedes says the ConceptFascination study was not created merely to arouse interest in a new and unusual design concept.

It is much more a matter of giving designers the opportunity to play around with unconventional topics, to look at things in a new way and to explore new ideas.

It says design studies also serve to stimulate a closer dialogue with customers and to gauge the public reaction to new ideas for cars.

They help Mercedes-Benz designers to get a feel for future styling trends and to develop new design idioms. 

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