Have the stars aligned at Mercedes?
“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.
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.