A glance into the future at Gorden Wagener’s “sensual purity 3.0”. But above all, says the Daimler design chief, “the Mercedes IAA (Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile) is a four-door coupé of irresistibly attractive design which is at the same time a paragon of aerodynamics”. It also respects the sensual purity principle introduced by Wagener to Sindelfingen design. This has not only brought with it the concept of modern luxury but has also established an all-time record: a Cx of 0.19. “A fusion”, says Wagener, “of beauty and intelligence: a sexy car, like all our models, but with an intelligence rooted in aeronautical language that has been inspiring us with the teardrop shape since the Thirties”.

The intelligence of this concept, whose structure and externals are the work of the team under Steffen Köhl, head of global advanced design, lies in its chameleon-like ability to change shape as soon as it hits 80 kph. Köhl explains: “The front bumper louvre is pushed 60 mm backwards, so improving the aerodynamics of the underbody, the front bumper flaps are pushed 25 mm outwards, improving the air flow, wheels and tyres take on a new appearance, and the tail is stretched 39 cm. This whole aerodynamic orchestra moves into action to reach the goal of a Cx of 0.19,that we worked on with our aerodynamics experts”.

The cut-off tail, Wagener notes, recalls the racing Shelby of the Seventies, while the double bubble roof owes something to Zagato. But the car’s proportions set it up in the CLS Class, Mercedes’ flagship range. Perhaps in the plug-in hybrid solution with petrol engine and total power output of 279 bhp, we are looking at Mercedes-Benz’s electric future. Born in just 10 months using 1:4 models made in the Californian studio of Carlsbad, and then a 1:1 clay model done at Sindelfingen which was used by Teddy Woll and his team to perform all the aerodynamic tests, the IAA (the same initials that were used at the Frankfurt Show where it was presented) is in the words of Köhl “a fusion of aesthetics and elegance with the know-how and experience of our brand”.

The interior is a different story. Under the direction of sector head Hartmut Sinkwitz and his right-hand man Hans-Peter Wunderlich, it is a reinterpretation of the S Class in its saloon and coupé incarnations: “In a sportier, less luxurious key”, comments Sinkwitz. But there’s more: it is the same interior, slightly modified to fit the new dimensions, that will take the stage in the coming weeks in the new E Class. “A balance of elegance, space and sportiness”, adds Sinkwitz: “Bright colours and aluminium for a more high-tech look, without forgoing a highly sensual formal language a contribution to which in terms of colour&trim came from our Como studio under Michele Paganetti, with Giulia Cinti and Frederik Baumann”.

With the autonomous drive O15 Luxury in Motion and the IAA the future of Mercedes is starting to look vividly clear.


The article continues in Auto&Design no. 215