Lasting Beauty That Moves

Have the stars aligned at Mercedes?

“Sensuously elegant and dramatically charged”, say Mercedes. They would, wouldn’t they? (c) Automotive News

“Lasting beauty that moves”: It’s a little bit clunky, would you not agree? But given Mercedes’ previous track record in the much-abused arena of tag-lineage, I have read worse. This week, at the Frankfurt motor show, the World’s oldest carmaker debuted a styling prototype for what is likely to be the most advanced electric vehicle to be made by an established manufacturer, and given that this is DTW, you might expect me to give it and its creators a bit of a drubbing.

But while I may not have come here to praise the EQS, nor have I placed this in front of you today so as to fling ripe vegetables its way either. Because if Mercedes’ latest concept car illustrates anything, it’s that this is what amounts to acceptable amongst the prestige German automotive players (if we exclude Porsche) at the present time.

The EQS’ style can be characterised as much by what it lacks, as for what it embodies. Taking the current Sindelfingen meets Carlsbad C.A. design ethos beyond its current level of purity, the car’s exterior is almost devoid of feature, employing what its design team, under the continued guidance of one G. Wagener describe as “its innovative, stretched ‘one bow’ proportion“, which lend the vehicle “its majestic appearance – luxurious generosity and aerodynamic elegance in ideal harmony“.

The most prominent graphic feature of the design is what Mercedes call a ‘continuous lightbelt‘, which creates a bold colour division at shoulder level, creating an impression of what Daimler cites as a “black panel glass landscape floating on the silver vehicle body“. What is perhaps unfortunate is that it also puts this author more in mind of a previous decade’s Maybach.

In what is either a neat piece of playful show-car frivolity or outright silliness, depending on one’s viewpoint, another striking visual feature of the EQS is its rear lighting signature, which consists of 229 illuminated, individual three pointed stars, which form an entirely different, if equally seamless ‘integrated lightbelt‘ across the rear of the vehicle.

Frankly, that what isn’t slightly featureless is merely clumsy – most particularly the EQ-line’s now signature front facia treatment, which I’m afraid to say, still fails to convince. Aiming for something akin to a sci-fi appearance, it simply looks cheap.

The cabin appears more convincing in photos however, with clean lines – inspired it’s said by luxury yachts – minimalist design and a somewhat zen ambience, in a manner believed to preview forthcoming production designs.

(c) Automotive News Europe

A production version of the EQS is currently under development, with proving prototypes already being photographed on public roads. From what can be discerned beneath the cladding, the shape appears to cleave fairly faithfully in proportion to the vehicle shown, suggesting that this is broadly the direction Mercedes are taking.

Our correspondent on the ground at Frankfurt (Christopher Butt) noted: “It’s fascinating in that, apart from the overabundance of stars, it’s utterly androgynous and generic. In that sense, I find it truly intriguing, insofar as it embodies a future where it’s the software that distinguishes the car – although whether that was Mercedes’ intention is doubtful.

It’s a little bit clunky, this EQS concept, would you not agree? But given Mercedes’ previous track record, we must therefore conclude that not only have we seen worse, but that Daimler’s design under Gorden Wagener, while hardly exonerated by any stretch, no longer offends; certainly not if the nightmare visions currently perpetuated by his opposite numbers at Ingolstadt and Munich’s Forschungs-und Innovationszentrum form any meaningful barometer. Small mercies.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

5 thoughts on “Lasting Beauty That Moves”

  1. The mistake Mercedes make is to use the language of the art critic to describe their own work. They need to say how the geometry is suppose to achieve certain effects and not just tell us the effect. “This painting is a damning indictment of consumer culture which thrills with its use of colour and at the same time moves and disturbs us by means of my skilful manipulation of proportion and scale”. Sounds wrong, doesn´t it?
    The interior is pleasant though?
    There isn´t a lot more to the shape than the paint job. Why not add some stripes too?

  2. I think the three pointed star removed from its roundel loses all context, and is no longer the Mercedes Benz emblem.

    Other than that, Herr Butt’s observation that it appear androdgynous is fascinating. Cars, especially premium cars, have pursued a more masculine aesthetic of late, either ‘aggressive’ (AMG) or ‘tough’ (most SUVs), which has appealed to both men and women.

    Will customers in future respond to a less assertive, pushy design? It might be good for all of us.

  3. I may be showing unconscious bias, but the side profile reminds me of the Citroën C6 – in particular the roofline and the slightly stubby and rounded boot. Hence, I think the profile is quite sweeping and elegant.

    The roundel-less stars are naff and the front fascia a swamp of amorphous forms.

    All said, though, I would gamble that the production car will be much nicer looking than the the competition, unless the new XJ-e can provide something special.

    1. The similarity to the C6 struck me as well. The front end is, as Bill says, Camryesque. You could say Mercedes went too far towards simplicity. Poor Mercedes can´t get it right so easily. In fairness. the current C, an important car, is by far the best looking of the three German brands in that class. However, Alfa Romeo, Volvo and Jaguar provide strong competition in aesthetic terms. I can see why a lot of C-class customers will be very happy to have such a car on their driver way. It´s to MB´s credit that they have aimed at a simple and airy cabin. The pushed-back dashboard produces an agreeable effect.

  4. The front immediately reminds me of a tidied-up current Toyota Camry. Two versions of the Camry front end are available to North American buyers. You can choose between the Cyclops eye front or the Cadbury chocolates-grade moulded tray fake baleen whale/waffle iron grille. Wagener and crowd have shown Toyota the way for a mid-life Camry styling makeover – an accomplishment indeed. Ahem

    Otherwise, this Mercedes looks remarkably similar in profile to a 2012 Honda Civic — only embiggened and embellished, lowered and equipped with tractor wheels. Progress?

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