The Mercedes Concept S-class coupé is “very close to the production version”, senior Mercedes designer Jan Kaul has said.
Even though this concept model is based on a modified version of the previous-generation S-class, it uses numerous production parts from the real car, which will appear in the showrooms next year.
According to Kaul, the real coupé is about 10mm higher and about 20mm narrower, and the centre of the nose cone – marked by the Mercedes badge - is is '30mm more upright' and has “less of a shark nose”. The production car also gets 20-inch wheels rather than the concept’s 21-inch units.
Kaul – who led the design of the concept’s interior - said the Mercedes design team sat down last September with the target of finishing the concept two months before last September’s Frankfurt show.
“A car like this is very much part of Mercedes’ coupé history; when we started on the project we imagined the kind of car that might be driven in a James Bond movie,” says Kaul.
‘Although the car is part of the S-class family with the prominent dropping line detail on the side of the car, the stretched proportions are completely different, with the greenhouse pulled right back. The car has a high shoulder and deep shoulders over the rear wheels.’
Kaul told Autocar that the surfacing of the concept is a combination of convex shapes and precise curves, a mix of purity and sensual sculpting. “The way the grille surround stands off the nose of the car is also distantly reminiscent of the classic W126 coupé.”
However, he admits that the interior – for which he was the lead designer – is slightly further from production reality. ‘The overall interior architecture is from the production model. With the dashboard we split it into two, separating the upper and lower elements, emphasizing that with the trim. The lower half of the dash is set very low, which meant we had to re-position the passenger airbag. The top half is designed to be sensual and free flowing: the lines run around into the door trims and the rest of the cabin.”
A large LCD display (two 12.3in screens in a single housing) dominates the driver’s view. Kaul says that the graphic interface was designed by Mercedes’ office in Palo Alto, which is close to Apple’s HQ. Other production parts include the centre console switchgear, the steering wheel, central control dial and much of the door switchgear.
Purely conceptual are the vent designs (an Apple-inspired combination of white ceramic and brushed aluminium) and the huge aluminium door trims. Kaul says these pieces were milled – over a weekend – out of a solid aluminium billet and are decorated with fine lines intended to evoke the topographical lines seen on maps.
The small screen on the lower centre console shows four clocks indicating the time in different cities around the world. This was another ‘James Bond’ touch, says Kaul.
When it arrives, the S-class coupé will provide fierce competition for the Bentley Continental GT, particularly. A cabriolet version is also expected to arrive soon after.