Tag Archives: Gorden Wagener

There Will Be a Maybach Successor and It Will Be a Benz

By Jens Meiners

1997 Mercedes-Benz Maybach concept

Mercedes will place a new S-class atop its range to replace Maybach, much like this Mercedes Maybach concept from 1997.

Mercedes-Benz is readying an ultra-luxury version of the new S-class that is being designed to take over at a slightly lower market position than the ill-begotten Maybach. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told Automotive News that the vehicle would compete with vehicles in the $200,000–$250,000 range—rather than the 400-large-and-up bracket Maybach inhabited. He added that the technological and luxury content will top that of the 2014 S-class as currently offered in the marketplace.

The highest-priced S-class to reside outside this über-luxurious range-topping S-class will the the upcoming S65 AMG—which we hear will bow in Los Angeles this November—the AMG models, however, place high emphasis on extreme power and ostentatious sportiness. Benz’s challenger to the Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost would have to display more restraint and a more-conservative style. The upcoming high-level S-class could have a slightly longer wheelbase than even the long-wheelbase model we get stateside, but it won’t come close to the now-discontinued Maybach 62.

Daimler’s decision means that the brand will abandon the segment occupied by both the Maybach 57 and the Maybach 62, which competed head-on with the Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Bentley Mulsanne. Born out of the inability to snatch up either Bentley or Rolls-Royce brands, Maybach never came close to achieving its projected market performance, and has been regarded as an unnecessary aberration for Daimler at best.



At the S-class launch in May, Mercedes chief designer Gorden Wagener told us that the new S-class is positioned “a half-segment above the outgoing model,” and that its “classic lines” would make it a credible successor of the Maybach. Our own sources tell us that one of the styling elements of the upcoming, top-level S-class will be traditionally styled, high-gloss, machined wheels. The new model is expected to arrive in 2015 as a 2016 model.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA Spied Inside and Out, Headed for a Frankfurt Debut

By Jens Meiners

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA (spy photo)

What It Is: The Mercedes-Benz GLA-class small crossover, spotted wearing its thinnest camo yet. The playful, swoopy lines favored by chief designer Gorden Wagener work well on this compact crossover, but casual observers may have a hard time distinguishing it as a Mercedes without spotting the three-pointed star positioned in the grille. The GLA was previewed by the Concept GLA unveiled at the Shanghai auto show earlier this year, and will lose the massive 20-inch wheels, the recessed door handles, and the laser/LED headlights for production. READ MORE ››

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG: Small and Strong [2013 New York auto show]

By Jens Meiners

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG

Subtlety doesn’t cut it anymore in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. The new CLA-class, proclaimed a “style rebel” by design chief Gorden Wagener, has made that clear with its voluptuous lines and playful styling elements. This “four-door coupe” appears compact, but it’s only marginally shorter, and actually wider and taller than the legendary 1985–1995 E-class W124 sedan. READ MORE ››

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

The Continental: Best and Worst of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show

By Jens Meiners

The Continental

Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.

Volkswagen CrossBlue concept

Detroit is the most important American auto show by far. As a German, it is endlessly fascinating to check out the American and Asian cars at the show, many of which are not sold in my home country. Those that are sold there often come with vastly different powertrains and design features. This year’s Detroit show was rife with awesome styling concepts and even a few surprises. Here is my personal take on some of the cars and technologies I came across on the show floor.

Best Concept: Volkswagen CrossBlue. Yes, I know the styling doesn’t knock anyone’s socks off, but it is well executed to the last beautiful detail—and it packs a lot of them, such as the angular, U-shaped daytime running lights. The concept’s interior is futuristic and it boasts quite forward-looking technology, such as a Schaeffler-supplied electric rear axle. Volkswagen’s MQB modular architecture is designed to incorporate this unit with few changes, and we will see it on production VW Group cars soon.

Lincoln MKC concept

Worst Concept: Lincoln MKC Concept. Ford’s design department under J Mays seems to be falling back into an old pattern. Remember the Ford Five Hundred, a blatant ripoff of Peter Schreyer’s Volkswagen B5 Passat? I can just imagine Mays ordering Lincoln chief designer Max Wolff to take an Audi Q5 and morph it to the Ford Escape’s package. From the side window opening to the wraparound tailgate, the MKC is embarrassingly lacking in originality. Several Ford designers have worked in Audi and VW design, but shouldn’t they be allowed to move on?

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Best Production Car: Chevrolet Corvette. America’s sports-car icon is taking a big leap forward. Its styling is aggressive enough to appeal not only to the aging Corvette collector crowd, but also to a new, younger set of buyers. The front grille may be somewhat unexceptional, but the headlight design is refreshing; the side view is novel and even slightly Italian; and the angry rear end is simply fantastic. Thank you, Chevrolet, for not allowing this icon to be clinic’d to death. The C7 Vette goes the extra 25 percent the C6 wasn’t allowed to go, and as a result it will be considered a great Corvette.

2014 Jeep Compass Latitude

Worst Production Car: Jeep Compass. This car is hardly worth mentioning, but it represents the mindset that prevails when “car guys” take the back seat in a car’s development. Cynically exploiting the Jeep brand, this pseudo-SUV has become a barely acceptable vehicle almost seven years after its launch. It resembled a diminutive Grand Cherokee for a few years, but now its big brother is getting a facelift, leaving the Compass behind yet again. It is a sad fact that the Compass was conceived when Dieter Zetsche and Wolfgang Bernhard were calling the shots at Chrysler, as they are now at Mercedes-Benz.

2014 Cadillac ELR

Best Exterior: Cadillac ELR. The series production ELR does not deviate far from the look laid down by the stunning Converj concept from a few years back, and I like everything about it. Slim, futuristic, and true to Cadillac’s unique design language, it brings enormous appeal to the notion of owning an electric vehicle. Let’s hope that the ELR’s on-road performance, with its boosted Volt powertrain, is anywhere near what the styling promises, so that it won’t need the VL Industries treatment (see below).

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

Worst Exterior: Mercedes-Benz CLA. Almost eight years ago, I wrote a requiem for German design in a commentary for Automotive News. Back then, I argued that restraint and simplicity have gone out the door in favor of voluptuous lines and nonfunctional styling—and that was before Gorden Wagener became head of design at Mercedes-Benz. From my somewhat purist perspective, things certainly haven’t improved. That said, taste in styling is personal, and anyone who likes the looks of the CLA, a self-proclaimed “style rebel,” will be positively thrilled by its dynamic capabilities. And I concede the small Benz’s look is functional: It has the one of the lowest drag coefficients of all series production vehicles on the market.

By the way, as we are speaking of simplicity and restraint: Why did every Audi—the high-performance 2014 RS7 included—on the stand in Detroit have chrome wheels?

Best Interior: Toyota Avalon. I opened the door of this Japanese Buick only to check if they still fitted a front bench seat; the last Avalon I bothered to peek into (some years ago) was so equipped. To my utter surprise, I was met with one of the most beautifully styled instrument panels I’ve seen in this class. It has a layered surface, soft and hand-stitched padding, and a brushed-metal center zone fitted with precisely machined knobs just like on a 1970s high-end stereo. (Which most Avalon customers likely vividly remember.)

2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum interior

Worst Interior: Any Cadillac with CUE. Actually, GM’s luxury brand has some of the best interiors in the marketplace—clever, functional, aesthetically pleasing. But for me, the CUE infotainment system ruins the experience. Not only is it slow to respond and sometimes counterintuitive, I deplore the pitiful graphics. Come on, an ancient telephone receiver to symbolize the phone function? An antique globe to represent navigation? There even are 1970s-style symbolized bodies for the climate controls and OnStar, plus a child’s drawing of a cloud for the weather. It gets worse as you move on, delving into a world of overlapping rectangles and wide, empty spaces on the screen. This inexplicable mix of shapes and styles is unworthy of Cadillac. Ford’s SYNC, with all of its shortcomings, is an application that is far more pleasant to look at.

VL Automotive Destino

Biggest Surprise: VL Industries Destino. This Fisker Karma, stripped of its battery pack and electric powertrain, delivers one of the nastiest blows to E-mobility to date. The factory Karma is built around the notion of “sustainable mobility,” and VL’s dumping a naturally aspirated or supercharged 6.2-liter Corvette V-8 into its engine bay is about as sensitive as showing up at the local co-op in a camo-colored Hummer H1. The incredulous eyes of my European colleagues upon stumbling over the Destino were priceless. Can this be allowed? Yes.

Acura NSX Concept

Biggest Yawn: Acura NSX. It seems time to move beyond the NSX sports car even before this never-ending launch is finally over. I really look forward to driving the actual car, but the new model’s surprise factor and mystique will have been squandered by the time it hits the road.



Ford Atlas concept

Best Truck: Ford Atlas. Okay, this will be another long-haul launch, but for now, this thinly veiled next-generation F-150 is bold, well executed, and pleasantly technical in its styling language. I like the look, and I like the fact that it appeared in Detroit by surprise.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ

Worst Truck: GM’s new-for-2014 full-size pickup trucks for GMC and Chevrolet. GM’s design leadership in trucks was last asserted with the 1988 C/K—and lost to the Dodge Ram in 1994. Since then, it has been a downhill slide for the General, with the 2014 Chevy and GMC trucks figuring as the current low point. I suppose the trucks aspire to boldness, but, in fact, the pair represents one of the most timid redesigns I have seen. Apart from a few gimmicky details, calling these rigs “evolutionary” would be an overstatement.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver