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Mercedes takes new line on design

New E-Class Coupe, Cabrio edge Mercedes towards a ‘no lines’ design philosophy

Mercedes-Benz logo4 Jul 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in ITALY

MERCEDES-BENZ director of exterior design Robert Lesnik has revealed that the new E-Class Cabriolet as well as the recently released E-Class Coupe are the first of the company’s “no lines” production models that will inform all future vehicle styling from the German marque for the foreseeable future.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Cabriolet in Italy last week, Mr Lesnik said that a clean, ‘less is more’ philosophy will broaden the general appeal as well as unify the look of the entire model range, while going against the grain of current trends.

“The design focus was to make all of our cars more recognisably Mercedes-Benz,” he said. “The design of the coupe and convertible, for example, is very clean, with no lines on the side at all.

“We are taking lines out of cars while others are adding them.”

The Concept A sedan from the Shanghai show in April takes the new design language one step further, previewing the look of the next-generation Mercedes A-Class small car to be launched in 2018.

Three years in design gestation (out of the four overall for the entire W213-based E-Class range), both the cabriolet and its coupe companion were developed concurrently, with each displaying what Mr Lesnik describes as “sensual purity”, for a dynamic beauty that should not date for a long time.

“If you look at the rear shoulders of the cars you’ll find it is very organic yet sexy – so much so that it encourages people to run a hand over it and touch it,” he said.

 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz director of exterior design Robert Lesnik

Mr Lesnik added that the E-Class Cabriolet possesses a more ‘elegant’ four-seater grand tourer appearance compared to the smaller and sportier C-Class convertible as a vital point of visual differentiation between two fairly similar vehicles (size apart). After all, it is worth remembering that Mercedes has never had this many four-seater drop-tops available all at once.

“We’ve never had a C, E and S-Class convertible available all the same time,” he said. “And it is something customers do see and notice. And the same goes for the inside.

“From the driver and front passenger seat, buyers will notice the two power domes on the bonnet. It is a subtle detail that connects today’s E-Class Cabriolet with the 1950s SL and 1990s SLK. And the one-bar grille is unique to the cabrio, too.”

Influences from other recent Mercedes models are evident throughout the newcomer, with the current AMG GT Coupe, as well as the four-door AMG GT Concept unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March, providing inspiration.

“In 2014, the AMG GT brought a clean rear end, with its thin horizontal tail-light treatment,” Mr Lesnik explained. “Along with the move of the numberplate down into the bumper, it provides maximum differentiation from the Mercedes sedans.

“And if you look at the AMG GT Concept from earlier this year you might see some of it in the next-generation CLS.”

The latter, which is expected to appear at the Los Angeles auto show in November, is said to have a more fastback silhouette to replace the slow-selling CLS Shooting Brake wagon.

Mr Lesnik is also is grateful of the extra length afforded to the latest E-Class model compared to its smaller, shorter and narrower Coupe/Cabriolet predecessor, which was based on the C-Class platform from the segment below, bringing all sorts of compromises to the styling that had to connect with its corresponding full-sized sedan’s namesake.

As a result, some visual connections with the last properly sized E-Class cabrio from 1992 could be made in terms of proportions.

“We could finally get back to the (1985-1996) E-Class with this one,” he revealed. “So we went for the proportionally classic ‘cab-backward’ silhouette.

‘The W124 sedan’s simplicity carries through too, though not in any styling elements. You might notice something in the way the rear end tapers, as it also did in the original C-Class (190E of 1982).

“That’s why we periodically borrow cars from the Mercedes-Benz Museum for a few weeks at a time for inspiration.”

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