Remember the Ssangyong Actyon and the Infiniti FX? While the former answered a question nobody answered, the latter was the first SUV to offer a coupe-like roofline in 2002, a full three years prior to the debut of the Korean model.
Though both high riding vehicles weren’t hugely successful — it could be argued that the FX it was before its time and the brand and overall styling of the Ssangyong let it down — the BMW X6 was (and continues to be) a successful product for the Munich-based carmaker. Now Mercedes is looking to follow suit with the Coupe Concept SUV unveiled this past weekend in Beijing.
A preview of a production model set to launch in 2015, the four-door, all-wheel drive coupé study is nearly five meters long and, with broad shoulders and flared wheel arches, is a full two meters wide. The low roofline, power domes on the hood and the finned grille (a fresh take on the dotted inserts seen on other current Mercedes products) blends with recessed door handles and frameless side windows as on the CLA and CLS, the pioneer of the four-door coupe genre.
“The Concept Coupé SUV stands out thanks to its extreme proportions and in doing so interprets our hallmark Mercedes coupé design idiom perfectly,” says Mercedes-Benz head of design Gorden Wagener. “With its superior sportiness it conveys a sense of modern luxury and aesthetic aspirations of sensual clarity.”
But while the Concept Coupe SUV is said to embody the typical character of a Mercedes sport coupé, its muscular fenders, substantial wheel arches, large 22-inch wheels, high waistline and generous ground clearance emphasize the SUV side of the concept car, which stands just 1750mm tall.
Is this the way car design is headed? A large, aggressive crossover vehicle that rides high over conventional sedans but with a chopped roofline and shallow DLO to communicate a sense of dynamism? I’m not entirely convinced…
While the ‘Alu-Beam’ paint is reminiscent of the technically groundbreaking Silver Arrows of the 1930s and 1950s, and the air suspension, nine-speed automatic transmission, four different handling programs and an individually programmable setup for the ‘Dynamic Select Control’ system all point towards a technologically superior product, the design and vehicle typology is hardly groundbreaking.
Many will undoubtedly see it as a copycat model wanting to enter in to a segment where flashiness and style far outweigh sense and practicality — a bit like the successful X6 then. We can’t wait to see how it translates to production.
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