Can We Please Stop Pretending This Mercedes Concept Is Good Looking?
The German marque has unveiled its latest all-electric concept. Impressive? Yes. Cool? Also yes. Beautiful?…not so much.
Amidst a time of great change in the automotive industry, Mercedes-Benz has attempted to fuse past with future in the new Vision One-Eleven. A new all-electric powertrain sits within a decidedly futuristic silhouette that borrows from the design language of the legendary C111. Unveiled at the 1969 Frankfurt motor show, the C111 comprised a series of 16 concept cars that explored various forms of propulsion, aerodynamics, and powertrains; including the then-revolutionary 2.4-litre Wankel rotary engine that delivered 257 kW and 391 Nm of torque.
Crafted from fibreglass, the ‘experimental sports car’ introduced an innovative body shape characterised by its gullwing doors, aerodynamic nature, and lightweight construction. Not to mention its striking black and orange paintwork.
However, the Vision One-Eleven is not a remake. Powered by two rear axle-mounted axial-flux electric motors from YASA combined with a new battery setup, the German marque claims the concept “has the potential to take electric mobility to a new level of performance.”
Eschewing the wedge shape of the C111, the newcomer adopts Mercedes-Benz’s One-Bow design language—showcased in the Vision EQS—which is defined by a single graceful line from hood to tail. The gullwing-style doors—notably seen on the aptly named 300 SL Gullwings of the 1950s—have been retained, furthering the classic meets cutting-edge ethos of the concept.
Taking on a monolithic appearance, it appears as if crafted from a single sheet of metal. At just 1.17m high—its proportions emphasised by oversized 30-inch aluminium wheels—the concept sits close to the ground and takes on a sculptural feel. While it doesn’t copy the paintjob of the C111, it unmistakably references it through colour-changing paint that adds a sense of grandeur.
The front end of the Vision One-Eleven mimics that of the C111, but where its predecessor was fitted with foglamps, the new concept features a pixelated display. In an of-the-now touch, the panel is able to digitally interpret the C111’s signature round lights as well as display animated messages to other road users — with the same functionality on the rear end.
The futuristic aesthetic continues inside the Vision One-Eleven. The cockpit is upholstered in white and silver leather, complemented by orange and bright chrome accents. The forward-thinking cockpit adapts to the selected drive mode.
In race mode, the interior becomes a minimalist driving machine, with the backrest upright and a compact driver-oriented touchscreen on display. Meanwhile, putting it into lounge mode sees the seats fully integrated into the interior sculpture, which merges sills, centre tunnel, and luggage compartment into a single unit.
“Our goal at Mercedes-Benz is not to do styling – our goal is to create icons,” explains Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “To me, that makes the difference between mainstream design and luxury. Design icons like the Type 300 SL and C 111 – both with gullwing doors – are part of our DNA. These legendary vehicles were major inspirations for the iconic design of the Mercedes-Benz Vision One-Eleven. This is beauty and the extraordinary united in one vision of the future.”
Now, the Mercedes-Benz Vision One-Eleven may be an icon in the making. But is it a great beauty? Though undeniably futuristic, the technologically advanced pixelated design gives the front-end an appearance not dissimilar to a vacuum cleaner, while the low-slung monolithic body is more akin to an AI interpretation of an insect in a sci-fi film than a sportscar.
However, according to Wagener, the smooth minimalism of the Vision One-Eleven is the embodiment of his ‘sensual purity’ design philosophy. We’ll let you decide.
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