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Mercedes-AMG drop-top is all muscles

Timeless: Mercedes-AMG designer Vitalis Enns hopes his baby, the GT C Roadster, will stand the test of time.

‘Pure’ new open-top GT C Roadster is Mercedes-AMG’s Mr Smooth

3 Apr 2017


MERCEDES-AMG designer Vitalis Enns points out the uncluttered surface panels of the new GT C Roadster, noting the absence of even an antenna for radio and GPS reception on the back of the car.

Ah, so where is it? “Embedded in the lid,” he replies, tapping the lightweight bootlid made in a world-first compound process combining carbon-fibre with a sheet moulding process.

The AMG design team and their engineering counterparts went to these extremes to give the latest open-top two-seater smooth, curvaceous panels unmarked by extraneous elements.

In Mr Enns’ words: “What I love about this design is that it is pure.” Mr Enns was assisted in his sculpting efforts by Australian clay modellers who learned their craft at companies such as Holden and Ford Australia – skills he values highly in setting the final shape of a vehicle.

The Mercedes-AMG halo sportscar – set to land in Australia in the third quarter of this year – is Siberian-born, German-schooled Mr Enns’ first design job for Mercedes-AMG since switching over two years ago from rival Volkswagen Group where he did stints with Bentley and VW-owned ItalDesign in Turin.

His credits include the current Bentley Continental GT and GT Convertible, as well as the Bentley Mulsanne.

But he agrees that his work on the square-jawed Bentley Bentayga – a large, boxy SUV – could not have been more different than his efforts to give the GT C its low-slung, muscular style.

His task was to take AMG’s GT Coupe – designed before he arrived in Stuttgart – and turn it into the GT C Roadster , the wide-bodied version of AMG’s new drop-top GT duo.

Speaking at the global media launch of the GT Roadsters in Phoenix, Arizona, Mr Enns said every panel of the GT C except the door skins and the bonnet is new, meaning considerable freedom of design, had he wished.

“We could have done any car out of it, because it is literally just a door and the bonnet,” he said. “But it was very important for me to keep it in the GT family.” Mr Enns said he chose to “play with volumes”, thus emphasising the “muscles” of the vehicle.

He said these muscles are what sets AMG cars apart from those of parent company Mercedes-Benz.

“These are the muscles that you can only have on a Mercedes-AMG car,” he said, pointing out the rounded, seamless panels around the wheel arches.

M Enns said AMG design emphasised “positive surfaces” – those that curve out rather than in.

This even applied to the new signature AMG grille – dubbed Panamerican – that is not only big (“like a wide mouth”) but has vertical chrome bars that bulge out in the middle.

While extra muscle is AMG’s shtick, it shares Mercedes’ design vision for unadulterated surfaces under the company’s latest “sensual purity” design direction.

Simply put, this eschews lines and other design elements, instead letting the light fall on sculpted surfaces to provide the highlights.

“Designers like to have their cars like architecture, lasting hundreds of years,” Mr Enns said. “There is nothing in the market like this one (GT C Roadster). This is because of its pureness.

“For me what is very important is that it is pure. It does not have any elements. As soon as you put elements – different features – it is fashionable. As soon as something is fashionable, in three years’ time, goodbye.” Mr Enns said timeless design meant working with surfaces, volumes and proportions.

“I work with highlights, I don’t work with lines,” he said. “This is a muscle. That’s all I need. I don’t need lines to describe this muscle. It is just a muscle.” When we mistakenly refer to the GT C as a convertible, Mr Enns politely corrects us: “This is a roadster.” He says one of the design features that makes the two-seat car a roadster is that the fabric roof is still exposed behind the two seats when folded, and not covered by a hard lid.

This quirk can even be turned into a highlight: a matte grey GT C at the Phoenix launch was fitted with a bright red hood that, when folded, still provided a flash of colour across the middle of the car.

Mr Enns said the open-top design also allowed lighter coloured interior materials, such as beige, to emphasise the sunny, airy disposition.

PS: Vitalis Enns’ brother Eugen also works in design at Mercedes, at the company’s advanced design centre in California.

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