Mercedes-Benz gets aero on everyone’s ass at Frankfurt.
While this week’s Frankfurt show-stopping Porsche Mission E concept appears to offer a vision of the future where (Porsche) drivers are offered the very latest propulsive technology wrapped up in a reassuringly familiar (if nicely proportioned) package, Mercedes-Benz have taken a sharply divergent approach; Daimler’s brave new world being a starker affair altogether.
A study in leading edge aerodynamic thinking, the Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA offers a plausible insight into how forthcoming cars will be shaped. The visual highlight of the concept design is its extendible tail section; the most overt of several movable aerodynamic devices throughout the car, aimed at shredding the drag co-efficient to a mere 0.19cd. Visually Concept IAA develops on themes already explored in this year’s Autonomous Drive concept, but with more emphasis upon exterior style than interior ambience.
A couple of observations: First – pure aerodynamics rarely produces conventionally attractive shapes. Concept IAA is conclusively not a pretty car, even if it is a very interesting one. Second: Ever since Pininfarina codified the ideal saloon shape with the 1978 Studio CNR concept, there has been a certain inevitability that we’d find ourselves in this neck of the woods eventually. It seems even more likely now that car design is moving en-masse towards this kind of silhouette as airflow management becomes increasingly the focus for designers. Third: In the pursuit of the lowest drag co-efficient, there clearly wasn’t scope for the kind of pointlessly busy surface entertainment festooning Daimler’s current output, suggesting that while the future may be stark, it may also be a little more restful on the eyes.
A final point. There are suggestions that Concept IAA is a foreshowing of the next generation CLS-Class. I have no idea of the veracity of this claim, but were it to be so, the vaguely banana-shaped profile appears to pay inadvertent homage to the Michael Fink original. Now there’s a genuine surprise.