Lines and creases – so last season.
This week has seen the unveiling of Mercedes’ latest concept, previewing the styling direction to be taken by the next generation of A-Class-series Mercedes models. Concept A was previewed earlier in the year with a conceptual sculpture and a toe-curling lecture by the blessed one on how his signature design theme was evolving. Since then, he’s completed a glossy coffee table book in conjunction with Conde Nast, called “Sensual Purity: Gorden Wagener on Design” and is rumoured to be working with Eyna on a concept album to accompany it.
The blessed one was on hand to announce the latest evolution of Sensual Purity® at Shanghai, but the big news was not just the concept car itself – which was of course both sensual and pure, but Gorden himself, who has undergone something of a sensual makeover himself. The fashion world is said to be agape at his Gorden-ness’ alt-casual get up, a leading couture head being heard to sigh into a tiny mobile phone; ‘Gorden is just so hot right now’.
But Mercedes’ Chief Design Officer had more pressing matters on his beautiful mind, telling a smitten press corps; “The Concept A Saloon shows that the time of creases is over, with its perfect proportions and a sensual treatment of surfaces with reduced lines, it is the next milestone of ‘Sensual Purity’ and has the potential to introduce a new design era.” Carnage ensued, and several members of the press pack are believed to have fainted in the ensuing melee.
The W176 A-Class family of cars has been a major success for Mercedes. Since its introduction in 2012 more than 2 million A-class derived models have been sold globally. It took fifteen years and two generations for the previous (loss-making) incarnation to reach similar sales heights. But unlike its predecessors, the current model line is actually bolstering Daimler’s bottom line and is a significant contributor to the luxury car giant’s past six years of growth.
This makes the next generation A-Class a real ‘don’t screw the pooch moment. Just as well Gorden’s a genius. Vision A then gives us a broad hint of what we can expect a three-volume A-Class to resemble. But is it a saloon or a CLA-style coupe thingy? Nobody seems certain. Mercedes sources suggest the A -Class family will run to as many as eight different iterations, so it’s not beyond reason that both body styles will be offered.
How close to production reality can we expect this to be? Well here I refer you to 2012’s ‘Concept Style Coupe’, the precursor to the current CLA, dubbed by Mercedes-Benz at the time as ‘The style rebel’. [Remember to breathe].
The press pack contained the following quote from the blessed one(sic), which states; “The almost production-standard Concept Style Coupé sets a new benchmark for avantgarde design in the executive segment. Its breathtaking proportions, sinewy fluid surfaces and sculptural lines are the physical expression of our dynamic design idiom.” Well Gordo, it’s good but it’s not exactly Sensual Purity®, is it?
But not only did it fall short on the SP-O-meter however, it also fell a bottomless chasm short of reality, because the CLA’s transition from concept to squashed production reality lost every screed of stylistic appeal along the way. All of which augers well for the upcoming generation, wouldn’t you say?
To be fair, Shanghai’s Concept A is a calmer looking device and the loss of the production car’s fussy surfacing can only be viewed with fervent relief, but just like the recent AMG Concept GT shown at Geneva, the reduction appears to lack much of any recognisable Mercedes-Benz flavour.
When the blessed one graced us with his words back in February, he said; “Form and body are what remain when creases and lines are reduced to the extreme.” However, what you tend to find when lines and creases are reduced to the extreme is that there is very little left visually to hang your magic marker on. Anyway why stop there? The logical conclusion is to have no body at all. It mightn’t be very sensual, but it would certainly be pure.