Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its latest concept car, dubbed the ConceptFASCINATION which, although billed as a concept for a new ‘shooting brake’ model, actually shows us the look of the next Mercedes E-Class due to be unveiled in 2009.
Here’s Mercedes’ blurb about the concept:
Mercedes-Benz has given fresh impetus to the long-established (although now rarely seen) “shooting brake”, a vehicle category with its own distinctive charisma. Freed from the constraints of a specifications book, the designers have created an automotive sculpture with great aesthetic appeal which once again demonstrates Mercedes-Benz’s high level of design expertise.
ConceptFASCINATION is a unique jewel of compelling automotive design which is distinguished by its irresistibly dynamic lines yet still offers the benefits of a large luggage compartment. A particularly notable feature of the design is that the practical load space develops organically from the exciting and elegant lines of this lifestyle coupé, giving it its special charisma. Inside, the tone is set by fine, exceptional materials hand-crafted to the highest standard. Absolute perfection and attention to detail make this design study an incomparable gem which conveys a sense of sporty forward movement and at the same time elegance, savoir-vivre and exclusivity of the highest level.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, commented: “This design study continues the long tradition of exciting coupés from Mercedes-Benz in impressive style. With its emotionally appealing lines, ConceptFASCINATION offers a completely new interpretation of the coupé. Its aesthetic, dynamic looks and meticulously crafted detail ensure that this study meets the highest design standards."
Taut, sharply contoured lines and finely sculpted surfaces
The design study’s elongated body is dominated by the dynamic front-to-rear sweep of its lines which gives it a dynamically charged look, evoking movement even when the vehicle is stationary. This impression is emphasised by the long, frameless, side-window line which 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 – one of the fundamental genetic markers of every Mercedes-Benz coupé – 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 whose sides are structured by taut, clearly defined lines which 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 wings in particular, the rounded treatment of the flared wheel arches is characterised by a degree of almost sensual exuberance – a classic Mercedes-Benz design element of the past – which is taken to an elegant conclusion in the lines of the rear. In order 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.
A self-assured front section with a new take on the dual headlamp face
The distinctive front section of this gracefully built athlete is a picture of self-assurance. It remains loyal to the dual headlamp face, but interprets it in a more contemporary way. The now rhomboid headlamps which are set against a grey background reveal the fascinating technical details of the light units which feature the latest LED technology as well as C-shaped fibre-optic inserts which serve as discreet running lights. With its new, sharper eyes and the surrounding lines and surfaces, the “face” of the ConceptFASCINATION vehicle is both exciting and forceful.
The bonnet of the design study has pronounced contours with a central ridge which 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 design gem a wide, confident stance.
The great attention to detail, which can be sensed in the assurance of every line and the graceful sweep of every surface, is exemplified to perfection by a special touch in the front apron: a fine chrome trim strip runs all round the lower body of the vehicle and at the front, LED fog lamps are set into this strip.
Forward-sloping rear with pronounced V-shape
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 which extend around the back, linking it visually with the sides, emphasise the width. In a styling move which is both clever and extremely harmonious, the undercut surround of the redesigned tail lights flows into the rear wings, serving as yet another example of the attention to detail made by the Mercedes-Benz designers. As at the front, the rear is completed by a small additional wing framed by four exhaust tailpipes.
Exquisite range of materials from the world of equestrianism
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 ensure that the sporty and stylish character of the show vehicle is also underlined on the interior.
The exquisite range of materials is inspired by the world of equestrianism and satisfies the most discerning tastes. Recalling the look and feel of a saddle, thick, dark leather covers the aluminium centre console which, like a bridge extending from the front to the rear, 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. Strong and natural, this 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 whose styling evokes a dynamic wing and which features an instrument cluster with five tubes and silver dials.
Luxurious load compartment with stylish details
Carefully crafted details give the load compartment a particularly luxurious and surprising character. The floor of the load compartment, which measures approximately 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 which 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.
Driven by new, powerful and economical four-cylinder diesel engine
Not content with just indulging the senses, the ConceptFASCINATION design study impresses with its technical underpinnings, too. These are drawn from the future E-Class Coupé and include the new four-cylinder diesel engine which features BlueTEC and AdBlue technology and develops 204 hp from a displacement of 2.2 litres.
Mercedes-Benz design studies look to future styling trends
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. 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.