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Benz to bypass cookie-cutter styling: Wagener

Ctrl C+V: Mercedes-Benz says that while the A-Class and CLS share a similar front end, the look will not be proliferated across the brand.

New A-Class and CLS share a grille, but it ends there for Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz logo6 Feb 2018

By DANIEL DeGASPERI in AMSTERDAM

DAIMLER AG chief design officer Gorden Wagener has vowed that new generations of Mercedes-Benz models will not adopt identical styling cues, despite the new A-Class mirroring the grille and headlights of the CLS.

Mercedes-Benz has committed to aligning its next-generation vehicles to a new design language dubbed Sensual Purity, which targets clean surfacing with a reduced number of lines and embellishments, as first seen with the CLS large car unveiled in November 2017, and now this month’s A-Class hatchback.

While dismissing some comments over the similar styling cues of the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class sedans, however, Mr Wagner also insisted that the AMG GT-inspired ‘predator’ grille and sharply angular headlights of the A-Class and CLS would only be reserved for the car-maker’s most “progressive” models.

“We ‘harmonise’ our three limousines (and) we do this very consciously,” he told GoAuto at the global reveal of the new A-Class in Amsterdam this week.

“The C-Class, E-Class and S-Class limousines are very homogenous. Only a few journalists mention that our three limousines are too close to each other, but the customer loves it. You look at our (sales) numbers and I think … this has been a very successful decision.

“But outside that range we play with different things. The reversed grille used as the Panamericana on our AMG GT … the predator face comes on two cars, this one (A-Class) and the CLS. The CLS is a very design-oriented car and the A-Class is as well, and they’re very much on opposite ends of our range.

“(But) the thinking was the A-Class is our most progressive car, the CLS the same, so that’s why that kind of face is first of all dedicated to these kind of cars and it’s not dedicated, for instance, to a C-Class. That will have a different face.”

Mr Wagener said that, beyond particular graphics, the Sensual Purity design philosophy would stand Mercedes-Benz products apart from the competition in the future. He also claimed that rivals had followed the styling of models such as the outgoing A-Class and that it was now time to lead a new trend.

“I think what’s very important is the language,” he continued.

“Because the language of the car (A-Class) as you can see is very reduced, whereas you can see with generation three we were very expressive (with) a lot of lines. And it was so successful that I think many (rivals) got inspired from that, you see a lot of cars with a lot of lines on it.

“Now we are moving one generation ahead by saying ‘if you like it, take another line off, and if you still like it, you take another line off’ so we end up with something that is very clean and reduced, just one line, just a catwalk line on the side very close to the window where you hardly see it, just a bit for the structure.

“It will be a general movement in our company, it is a general movement in our industry to put stuff on, but we take stuff off and this is why we believe this car is one generation ahead. The current car I think inspired a lot in the industry with its expressive design, and now we take it to the next level by taking stuff out.”

However, the Daimler AG chief design officer further reiterated that within this new design language there is also room to inject a particular personality into certain models.

“I think it’s almost a trade-off between a manufacturer’s look and the style of the car,” he added.

“First of all you must tell this is a Mercedes because it stands out of the crowd of all manufacturers. But we (also) put some emphasis on product character, depending very much on what type of car is it, what’s the message, it’s like a chessboard with different players and different functions.”

But Mr Wagener also rejected the suggestion that the fourth-generation A-Class could be seen as a ‘safe’ evolution of the third-generation model, which was a significant design departure compared with the first and second generations.

“It (fourth-generation A-Class) is a different situation than the one we did before,” he said.

“I mean that was a radical change we did to the company. What we did here is make the most successful thing even better, and when you look at that change I think it is significant.

“It’s the first one on our new front-wheel-drive architecture, and when you look at the proportion, the short front overhang, the low front, the big wheel size, the dash to axle, the whole proportion and when you see that car on the street I think it will look like a show car. It will look so dramatic, look at the front headlights and how small they are actually, how aggressive the face is.

“It’s a breakthrough.”

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