2008 Paris Auto Show: Mercedes-Benz ConceptFascination
Drawn under the direction of new design director Gorden Wagener, the Mercedes-Benz ConceptFascination is a modern "shooting brake" and a strong clue, particularly in the nose, to next generation Mercedes E-Class. Will Mercedes follow up its segment-busting CLS with this coupe/wagon? It sits on the next E-Class chassis, and Mercedes is known to quickly follow up its concept cars with production versions, so we're guessing you'll be able to buy one of these as soon as next year.
Why it Matters
The key thing to remember about the Mercedes-Benz ConceptFascination is not its shooting-brake (that's two-door wagon to the rest of us) body style, or its wacky interior features, such as an electrically-powered table. No, the main thing is that the front end is close to what you'll see on the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan and coupe. Beyond that, the Mercedes ConceptFascination is very definitely a concept.
What it Looks Like
Love it or hate it, you'll be seeing a lot of the ConceptFascination's nose in the near future. That's because it previews the face of the 2010 Mercedes E-Class. Expect to see the twin-headlight treatment seen here, as well as the flared front fenders and the sharply creased hood. We do expect the E-Class sedan to sport a more traditional grille, however.
The interior of the Mercedes ConceptFascination is high-concept indeed. Built-in humidors and refrigerators aren't new...if you're Bentley, Rolls-Royce or Maybach. The Fascination is strictly a 4-seater, with the rear divided by an aluminum and leather center console that extends from the front to the rear. The cargo area is crafted from wood and aluminum, and incorporates several clever features in addition to the fridge and cigar compartments. Under the floor on the left and right sides are compartments with binoculars as well as a digital camera with interchangeable Leica lenses. The center of the load floor features a folding smoked glass table that electrically glides out of the floor to reveal the humidor. Pull the table back to the rear and you gain access to the refrigerator.
What's Under the Skin
Since the Mercedes ConceptFascination is, by definition, a concept, the powertrain is up for grabs. We're not so sure it will come with the 204-horsepower 2.2-liter BlueTec diesel fitted to the show car, though, unless Americans start warming up to oil-burners.
What We Think
We're a little torn on the ConceptFascination's styling. On one hand, we like the cool two-door wagon shape. On the other, the front end strikes some of us as overstyled, not unlike the current-generation Mercedes S-Class sedan, and we hope it's toned down on the production E-Class next year. While we like some of the interior features, we freely admit that few will ever see the light of day. Still, that's why it's a concept, right?
By Keith Buglewicz and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown