Take note of the new Mercedes-Benz Fascination concept car, revealed today. This is no mere Merc Paris frippery – it's the first official look at the new 2009 E-class. And, more specifically, the new E-class coupe, as the next CLK will soon be known.
The Fascination concept might be a sporty shooting brake, but you can discount this bodystyle for production, CAR understands. The point of this concept car is to drop hints and tips about next year's new E-class saloon, estate and – the first for several generations – a coupe.
New Mercedes E-class coupe: the lowdown
The CLK will soon be dead, as Mercedes repositions its mid-sized coupe and convertible up a notch. It's amazing the difference three letters of the alphabet can make, but in marketing world the CLK will always be associated with the C-class (with which it shares the oily bits). Funnily enough, calling the new car an E-class coupe automatically moves it up a step. And a price bracket, we suspect...
That's why we should pay attention to the new Fascination concept. This is the first official hint of the new 2009 E-class ahead of its formal debut in January 2009. That snout, with twin oblong healamps astride a simpler grille is exactly how the new E's nose will look.
The three-pointed emblem will only appear on the single-louvre grille on the E-class coupe, not the saloon nor estate. But aft of the A-pillar, the Fascination strays down Concept Boulevard. You can safely ignore the sweptback roofline and rear end of this concept; insiders vow there will be no shooting brake in the product line-up.
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Mercedes Fascination: the design story
It's worth taking stock of the Fascination's design language. It's strikingly clean and exec slick from the front three-quarters, but there are some in CAR Towers who thought the rear end looked like the bastard offspring of a tipsy Merc R-class and Audi Q7.
But the kicked-up rear wheelarch is pretty cool, and there are plenty of interesting new design themes to soak up here. There's no B-pillar and the frameless side windows can all be completely lowered (a Merc coupe tradition), which we can expect to survive on the finished E-class coupe.
That front end is a new Merc signature, too. They call them 'rhomboid LED headlamps' and we'd tip the look and character of the jewellery to inform the next batch of products from Stuttgart. Note the C-shaped fibre optic inserts which act as day running lights, a feature quickly spreading throughout many manufacturers' ranges, while the front foglamps are built into the chrome strip beneath the bumper.
And what's this about a horsey inspiration?
Ah yes. The usual, madcap design inspiration claims in the press blurb. Apparently the inspiration for the interior finish was from the world of equestrianism. Not that we know many stables with panoramic glass roofs, fine leather, American walnut and aluminium trim surrounding four bespoke armchairs. But that's what happens when you leave a team of black polo-necked designers squirreling away on an art project for 12 months.
The Fascination's boot is suitably capacious (for a coupe-inspired shooting brake) with a 1sq m loadbay with special cubbies for two sets of binoculars and 'a high-quality digital camera with interchangeable Leica lenses'. Sounds like we'd better order one for CAR's best-performing spy photographers.
Our scoop specialists would doubtless enjoy the humidor and smoked glass table that rises from the boot floor, too.
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Mercedes Fascination concept: the new E-class's engine bay
Be warned – technical information about the Merc Fascination concept is scant at this stage. All Mercedes is saying is that this is based on the running gear from the future E-class Coupe.
We know it will be rear-wheel drive (what else?) and the concept car is powered by what will become one of the stalwart engines of the new 2009 E-class: the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel equipped with BlueTec and AdBlue to reduce soot and other emissions.
The executive car class heartland is moving towards the four-cylinder diesel engines, but fret not about this downsizing trend. The 2.2 CDI powering this E-class in drag kicks out a wholesome 201bhp.
And what else do we know about the new new E-class?
We'll see the first teaser images of the next E late this year, ahead of a formal unveiling in January 2009. But to read the full scoop stories on the next E-class, click here. We're just left wondering where this leaves the CLS... Wasn't that supposed to be the E-class coupe (albeit a four-doored one)?
The new Mercedes Fascination concept is one of a number of new Paris motor show concepts. Come back to CAR Online for full previews of the cars that matter – and join us on Thursday 2 October 2008 as we report live from the French capital.
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