Mercedes is going forward into the past with the retro-futuristic concept it has unveiled ahead of the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
At a full 18.5 feet, and painted in a vibrant, eye-catching red, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is almost certain to be one of the stand-outs among a collection of show cars assembled for the classic car show. And while there are no plans to put the boast-tailed coupe into production, Mercedes officials hint it could influence models as the maker presses further into the ultra-luxury market.
While the maker bridles at the term, “retro,” there is no question the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 delves into the brand’s past for its inspiration, said Davis Lee, the senior designer who gets credit for the concept. “Fundamental beauty never changes,” he told TheDetroitBureau.com, adding that, “This is very true” to Mercedes’ history.
(Cadillac Escala Concept reveals new design direction for Detroit brand. Click Here to check it out.)
Among the more distinctive features of the Vision concept are its gullwing doors, first seen on the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300SL, and the distinctive boat-tail, with its mere slits of rear windows. Lee conceded that the look was most often used by famous French brands of the 1930s, like Talbot-Lago, but it was also found on some Mercedes Autobahn cruisers of that era.
Then there’s that absolutely massive hood, which seems to stretch to the horizon if you’re sitting behind the wheel. It’s actually something of an oxymoron when you consider that the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is an electric vehicle, so there’s no need for such a long engine compartment. But the goal was to create a classic look, rather than adopt the “cold,” function-over-form shapes that have become commonplace with current battery-cars and EV concepts, such as the Mercedes F 015.
“They’re artificial (and) losing the emotional connection,” said Lee.
That drivetrain would be likely to kick off an adrenaline rush, however, as it churns out a full 738 horsepower, a hefty figure, even for a vehicle this big. Mercedes claims it would be able to launch the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 from 0 to 60 in “under four seconds,” with the show car’s top speed limited to 155 mph. Even then, range is said to be around 200 miles per charge.
That would suggest something in the range of 75 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries, according to several folks in the know. Despite the Vision’s classic exterior design, it uses a very modern construction, and those batteries are packed under the floor, much like the Tesla Model S. One advantage is lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity.
(First-ever Shelby Cobra could set record price at Pebble Beach Auction. Click Here for more.)
While the exterior may be a showcase of heritage design – a term stylists tend to prefer over “retro” – the cabin is decidedly modern. It has all the anticipated super-luxury details, of course, like leather seats and metallic accents, but it utilizes the latest in electronic display technologies, including an augmented reality windshield that overlays key driving data, including mapping information, over the real world. That display, meanwhile, can be controlled by hand gestures.
Dubbing it both “hot and cool,” Mercedes’ global brand design director Gordon Wagener said the Vision concept, “With its intelligent appeal and reduced, technoid look…perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity and our pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency.”
While he and other Mercedes officials made it clear we won’t see a production version of the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, they hint some of the design cues could show up in the brand’s future. And Maybach could use the help.
Originally launched as a standalone brand at the beginning of the new millennium, models like the Maybach M57 and M62 failed to make the hoped-for dent in demand for key rivals Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
In 2012, Daimler announced it was pulling the plug and would shift focus to higher-end versions of its S-Class, such as the promised S600 Pullman. At the last minute, however, it came up with an intriguing solution, melding the two brand names to create Mercedes-Maybach for its most exclusive offerings.
But company officials privately concede they’re still struggling to get that hybrid brand-within-a-brand on the radar of folks willing to spend $250,000 or more for a car. And, if nothing else, the Vision 6 concept seems likely to draw plenty of attention.
(Click Here to check out the McLaren 570GT by MSO Concept debuting at Pebble Beach.)