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Detroit show: Mercedes sculpture points to next CLS

Shapely: Mercedes-Benz goes arty with "CLS" sculpture at Detroit motor show.

Intriguing sculpture at Detroit looks set to transform into next-gen Mercedes CLS

Mercedes-Benz logo14 Jan 2010

By TERRY MARTIN

MERCEDES-BENZ placed an intriguing sculpture on its stand at the Detroit auto show this week, which is understood to preview the star marque’s redesigned CLS four-door “coupe” and a new front-end treatment that looks set to permeate across the entire brand.

Following Audi’s lead from last month’s A8 limousine launch at an art fair in Miami, Mercedes has moved to highlight automobile design as an art form.

But the prestige German manufacturer has also made it clear that the Detroit sculpture’s basic proportions “challenge the onlooker to interpret the shape of the future – real product that may be nearing the end of its flowing design process”.

Mercedes-Benz head of design Gordon Wagener revealed to journalists in Motown that a concept car will follow the sculpture at the Geneva motor show in March, although he would not confirm that the Detroit centrepiece points to the new CLS sedan, which is due for release in Europe late in 2010.

Prof Wagener told UK magazine Autocar that the sculpture previewed his vision for a new front-end design for Mercedes-Benz, based on the grille of the classic 300 SL. He also said that future models would have a more common front-end treatment than the current line-up.

“I want to make it a bit more corporate and have a little less variation than we do at the moment,” he said.

4 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz Detroit sculpture. Below: Current Mercedes CLS.

Prof Wagener also told Autocar that he “liked the idea of bringing back a shooting brake (model) and there would be room for such a concept” – fuelling speculation that the next CLS range will include an estate in a sporting shooting brake configuration with a squared-off rear end, rather than a traditional five-door station wagon.

“And if we did do it, it would be the most stunning car in its sector,” he said.

According to Mercedes, the Detroit sculpture represents a vehicle body taking soft, flowing form from a level surface – “as if an automobile of liquid silver was being created, or a shimmering cloth was gently draped over a newly conceived design”.

“To us, automobile design means artistic, aesthetically and sensuously oriented creation,” Prof Wagener. “Mercedes-Benz designers translate their artistic inspiration into the modern idiom of Mercedes-Benz automobile design, which combines dramatic details with harmony, style and passion.

“Mercedes-Benz design is clear, calm and consistent, but yet emotional and highly sensuous. Mercedes-Benz is the brand best able to present automobile design as an art form in an authentic way.” While his peers at rival manufacturers would beg to differ, Prof Wagener went on to say that the sculpture symbolises the key basic values of the Mercedes-Benz brand – “intelligent technology and quality, sensuous beauty, style, dynamism and innovative strength”.

Mercedes-Benz pioneered the four-door “coupe” craze with the big E-class-based CLS, which hit European showrooms in 2004 and arrived in Australia in June 2005.

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