The classiest, most charming Mercedes-Benz S-class derivative in ages does not wear a three-pointed star. How poignant.
This is not a Mercedes-Benz S-class convertible sporting some new DetoxAmbience® specification, but the Carlsson Diospyros. Hiding behind that clumsy moniker – and the presumption that car customising inevitably leads to Mansory-like levels of gaucheness – is the most assured and tasteful version of the current S-class released so far.
Inspired by, but not clumsily trying to mimic, Mercedes’ top-of-the-range offerings of the ’70s and ’80s, the Diospyros is mainly about eschewal. For it avoids the excessive ornamentation and overbearing decorum of the base car and instead focusses on quality of materials and craftsmanship.
For that reason, most of the regular S-class cabriolet’s chrome accents have been removed. As has most of the conspicuous stitching that usually does its utmost to blight any remaining sense of class and calm inside the S-class’ overwrought cabin.
There is, of course, only so much one can do on the basis of a car like the current, pure & sensual S-class. But the artisans and stylists at Carlsson have truly done the best they could, and that isn’t intended to be faint praise.
Even under the less-than-flattering spotlights of the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Diospyros (named after the ebony used for its interior) betrays genuinely impressive levels of craftsmanship. The leather used is a tactile delight and the stitching is of an artisan quality that’ll never be replicated by the current craze for ‘bespoke’ touches produced on an industrial scale.
Thanks to these substantially raised levels of perceived quality, the Diospyros doesn’t need to rely on conspicuous detailing. Just comparing the patterns of its seats with those of the donor car tells the whole story.
The Carlsson’s wheels – inspired by Mercedes-Benz’ range of Gullydeckel wheel designs of the ’80s – are more obviously retro than the rest of changes to the base car. They may constitute a less then subtle touch on an automobile that’s mainly about restraint, but then again, their clean styling certainly drives the message home with a vengeance.
More than a lesson in how to craft a luxury automobile that’s both tasteful and charming, the Carlsson Diospyros hopefully establishes a trend for customisers to offer restrained alternatives to the manufacturers’ increasingly excessive luxury offerings. And that would be quite something.
The author of this piece runs an obscure motoring site of his own, which you may or may not choose to visit at www.auto-didakt.com