September 26, 2008

Video: Mercedes-Benz CoupeFascination concept previews next E-class

Even though the 2008 Paris Motor Show only days away, the previews keep on coming. For this week's video feature, we've got the Mercedes-Benz CoupeFASCINATION -- a concept car which offers some insight into the design of the next-generation E-Class.

A sporting coupe, redefined
The CoupeFASCINATION concept builds on the four door "coupe" theme established with the production CLS series.

With this design aesthetic in mind, designer at Mercedes extended the roofline, adding frameless door glass and a set of suicide-style rear doors to aid entry into the copiously leather-trimmed interior, replete with all the show car glitz one would expect. (On-board humidors, anyone?)

Outside, the fenders swell dramatically around the front and rear wheels, lending a dynamic, fluid look to the long-established but rarely seen "shooting brake" - a vehicle category with its own distinctive charisma.

Up front, the traditional dual headlight treatment that has come to symbolize the E-class is expressed in a set of steeply raked rectangular headlights framed by the traditional pentagonal Benz grille and three-pointed star. The deeply contoured hood features a central ridge which picks up the V-shape of the front end and continues it along the body.

Together, they create a very dominant and expressive statement from traditional Mercedes-Benz design cues.

Inside, a panoramic glass roof adds to the sense of visual lightness aided by the pillarless sides and frameless door glass. In contrast, complementary shades of leather and nubuck cover much of the interior, with the aluminum center console spanning the space between four individual seats. Trim strips in American walnut with a fine chrome surround complete the portfolio of materials.

As for motive power, the CoupeFASCINATION concept features a 204-horsepower 2.2-liter turbodiesel inline-four, using BlueTec technology to reduce NOx emissions while providing plenty of torque for swift acceleration.

Drivetrain details remain sparse, but the production version would likely use the six-speed automatic transmission used by the current diesel E-class sedans.

As with all concept cars, there's the question of how much of the the show car's extravagance filters down to the production model. For instance, we don't know if the 2.2-liter diesel will be offered for the US market. It's unlikely that the suicide doors or pillarless sides would make it to production. But in its present form, the CoupeFASCINATION concept is one of the most cohesive and thoughtful designs to come out of the post-DaimlerChrysler era.

[Daimler AG, Video: R2R]

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