- Four-door open-air motoring pleasure and innovative engineering
- Intense sensual appeal and exclusive design
- Top-class elegance and lifestyle sophistication
- More than just an exercise in design
Mercedes-Benz designers frequently have visions of dream cars like the Concept Ocean Drive luxury convertible, but only a few such visions make it beyond the drawing board and get to be presented before a wider audience. This design study is one such exception. In the absence of virtually any constraints in the form of a design brief, production specifications or market demands, the designers were able to get on with the exciting job of building the world’s most comfortable and elegant convertible, in the form of an elaborate one-off special.
The result is an awe-inspiring jewel on wheels with which Mercedes-Benz is reviving its large four-door convertible tradition –a luxury automobile genre that has almost disappeared from our roads. The last four-door convertibles produced by Mercedes-Benz were built-to-order 300d cabriolet models which left the Stuttgart production lines in 1962. The Concept Ocean Drive model is revisiting and reinterpreting this luxury convertible tradition 45 years down the line in a one-off design study. Like its famous predecessors, the showpiece from Stuttgart features the maximum in elegance, lifestyle sophistication and exclusiveness. To put it another way, it represents automobile culture at its most attractive and desirable.
First and foremost however, the seductive Concept Ocean Drive four-door convertible is an exercise in sensual appeal, based on the technical platform of the Mercedes-Benz S 600 with long wheelbase (3165 millimetres/125 in) and twelve-cylinder engine. The one-off special has an all-new body with an almost classic flavour and with clearly defined lines and vibrant two-tone paintwork which are exceptionally charismatic. Although on one level it displays the restraint of an elite and aristocratic automobile, the design study is also an open invitation to go on a “topless,” carefree cruise along the world’s finest ocean promenades, in the drowsy warmth of a summer evening. The study combines youthful enthusiasm with genuine passion and healthy self-confidence. This is never marred even when the soft top has to be raised over the four luxurious single seats.
The charm of the Concept Ocean Drive operates only partly on the intellectual level. Certainly the car is equipped with the technical innovations which put Mercedes-Benz models among the leading pioneers in the luxury class – but its “dream car” character is centred more on extrovert self-confidence. The four-door convertible study proudly boasts luxurious and unusual materials and meticulous craftsmanship; its uncompromising perfection makes it a masterpiece whose unique qualities are likely to appeal to those who want, most of all, to rise above the mundane and ordinary.
There’s one dream, however, that the new luxury convertible from Stuttgart can’t hope to satisfy, namely that of owning it. Being a design study, it remains firmly “unattainable”. That said, however, as a design study it isn’t just designed to inspire dreams and fantasies but also serves a very practical purpose. Because whereas Mercedes-Benz concept or research vehicles are developed to test new vehicle concepts and technologies, design studies are a good opportunity for designers to play around with less familiar topics, to see things from new angles, to explore new ideas and to give fantasies an airing in the real world.
The Concept Ocean Drive is not just a pure design exercise and is more than just a playground for new ideas and perspectives. It is also a way of stimulating a closer dialogue with customers and of trying out new ideas for cars of tomorrow on the general public. This helps the designers get a feel for future styling trends and to develop and implement new design idioms. In the words of Professor Peter Pfeiffer, Mercedes Car Group, Senior Vice President Design: “Our automobile designers have the important task of identifying –and also setting – trends. They must be aware of currents and undercurrents in art, culture and society and must have an intuitive nose – at a very early stage – for what’s coming next. Designers are always working in the future. We can never stand still but must keep thinking further and further ahead.”
The Concept Ocean Driveturns a “dream car” vision into reality. At the same time it is also an affirmation of the design excellence and values of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Design has a dual task: on the one hand to produce exciting lines and shapes and on the other to express and visualise the brand identity. This identity is founded on the values of Mercedes-Benz such as excellent build and quality, comfort, effortless superiority, good value retention and safety.
The Mercedes-Benz design philosophy both perpetuates proven styling themes associated with the brand and at the same time combines them with new and surprising ideas and forms. The Concept Ocean Drive is a good example of this. It too reflects the basic design idioms and typical hallmarks of the brand. Needless to say these include the radiator grille, which despite its new treatment is instantly recognisable as belonging to a Mercedes. Other characteristic features of the current Mercedes-Benz style include purity and lucidity of form, with a striking interplay between taut lines and large, restful surfaces, and a rejection of excessive ornamentation in favour of enduring appeal. This gives the design study an air of effortless superiority, power, elegance and forward-flowing energy.
Distinctive and unexpected styling touches like the slightly downward-sloping line above the rear wheel arch and the new headlamp treatment help to define the special character of the unique Concept Ocean Drive. And the long side-window opening, which is not interrupted by a B-pillar or a window frame, ensures seamless continuity between the exterior and the interior, even when the top is up. Extensive use of high-quality materials – such as very soft leather, 3D-effect materials or large bird’s eye maple trim panels (in the interior and also on the soft top compartment cover – and many other thoughtfully designed interior details highlight the luxurious, unique character of this design study.