When the doors open at the Paris Motor Show next month, Mercedes-Benz will be giving everyone a sneak peek of the new E-Class front-end styling. No, not in the form of the new E-Class itself, which will be unveiled at a later date, but in the ConceptFASCINATION, an attractive shooting brake concept based on the upcoming E-Class Coupe's architecture and featuring the new E's front-end styling.
Gone are the round headlamps we've become accustomed to. In their place are new "rhomboid" lamps that, on the show car at least, incorporate fiber-optic driving lights. The grille will likely be the same one seen on the new E Coupe, while we'd expect the sedan to have the traditional grille-and-hood-ornament combo instead. Power comes from Mercedes' new 2.2L, 204-horsepower BlueTEC (with AdBlue) 4-cylinder diesel, which will make its production debut this fall in the Euro-market C250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY
The ConceptFASCINATION's cargo area is covered in wood, and boasts such show-car goodies as a folding glass table that can be pulled rearward, a humidor, a chilled compartment (natch), and storage for binoculars and a camera. A pronounced rear fender arch lends some visual muscle to the whole affair. Hopefully, that's also a hint at what the inevitable E-Class wagon's rump is going to look like. As for the new front end, it's a lot better looking here than spy shots have led us to believe. We'll have much more next month from Paris. In the meantime, Mercedes' extensive press release is pasted after the jump.
UPDATE: New high-res images added to gallery.
Mercedes-Benz ConceptFASCINATION study showcases new design idiom
Sense and sensuousness – a compelling in-terpretation of a coupé concept
Stuttgart – Mercedes-Benz builds the world's most desirable coupés – a claim which the Stuttgart-based car maker is underlining at the 2008 Paris Motor Show with its ConceptFASCINATION design study. This unique vehicle, whose innovative and unconventional proportions interpret the emotional appeal of a coupé in a new way, represents an exciting and intelligent combination of sporty and elegant design with stylish practicality. Wood, aluminium and smoked glass give a particularly exclusive look and feel to the luggage compartment which incorporates a refrigerated compartment and a humidor as well as offering a large load space. These attributes embody the two objectives of ConceptFASCINATION – to provide a high level of practical usability and to create a coupé which appeals to the heart with fast, thrilling lines. In developing this design study, 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 be-nefits 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 at one and the same time a sense of sporty forward movement and 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 ap-pealing lines, ConceptFASCINATION offers a completely new interpretation of the coupé. Its aesthetic, dynamic looks and painstakingly crafted details 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 empha-sised by the long, frameless, side-window line which describes 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 harmoni-ously while also increasing the impression of length and creating a remark-able sense of lightness. 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, undercut feature line and an addi-tional 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 fenders in particular, the rounded treatment of the flared wheel arches is characterised by a de-gree of almost sensual exuberance – a classic Mercedes-Benz design ele-ment 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 han-dles are visually extended rearward of the doors into the sides of the vehi-cle.
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 a-gainst 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 Concept-FASCINATION vehicle is both exciting and forceful.
The hood 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 vehi-cle 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 gi-ves 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; at the front, LED fog lamps are set into this strip – turning it into a sparkling piece of jewellery.
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 fenders, serving as yet another example of the painstak-ing attention to detail by the Mercedes-Benz designers. As at the front, the rear is completed by a small additional wing framed by four exhaust tail-pipes.
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 visual lightness to the interior, too, 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 by 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 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
Painstakingly crafted details give the load compartment a particularly luxuri-ous 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, for example.
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 com-partment 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 de-sign study impresses with its technical underpinnings, too. These are drawn from the future E-Class Coupé and include the new four-cylinder diesel en-gine which features BlueTEC and AdBlue technology and develops 150 kW / 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 reac-tion to new ideas for cars. They help Mercedes-Benz designers to get a feel for future styling trends and to develop new design idioms.