It's a Case of History Repeating Itself

Richard Webb

Richard Webb talks to the team behind the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible. 

I first met Gorden Wagner last year, at the launch of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and now we are together again, talking cars, of course. Wagener is President of Design for Daimler AG, and he believes design defines the brand and its take on modern luxury. “It expresses an essential aspect of the Mercedes-Benz brand - the bipolarity of intelligence (cold) and emotion (hot). 

We are in Stuttgart, at Daimler’s HQ, standing next to the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible, talking about his ‘sensual purity’ design philosophy. A keen surfer, the urbane Vice-President of Design, Gorden Wagener was born on September 3, 1968, in Essen. After studying Industrial Design at the University of Essen. He specialised his studies in Transportation Design at The Royal College of Art in London. Before he joined Mercedes-Benz in 1997, he worked as an exterior designer at Volkswagen, Mazda and GM. 

A variety of models bear Wagener’s signature as Vice-President of Design, like the C-Class, S-Class, S-Class Coupé, the Mercedes-AMG GT as well as the new GLE Coupé and GLC. He believes the new S-Class Convertible symbolises a passion for individual and timelessly exclusive mobility, and it sets the pace when it comes to safety, efficiency and comfort. 

“A centerpiece of the front end is the black diamond radiator grille featuring that iconic star and a single louvre in silver with chrome inserts”, says Wagnener. The LED Intelligent Light System can be ordered with optional exquisite Swarovski crystals for the turn signals and daytime running lamps. 

Of course, Mercedes-Benz' has a long heritage with distinctive, hand-built, four-seat cabriolets. It all began with the pre-WWII 380K and, until now, ended with the 280SE 3.5, which was only produced for two full seasons. By 1971, it was withdrawn from sale. The W107 350SLC never did take over the market vacated by the W111 Coupés and Convertibles – because it wasn't available as Convertible. People who wanted a 5 seater open Mercedes-Benz had to wait until the 1990s when the convertible version of the W124 Coupé arrived. 

But now big, 4 seat open top cars from the Three Pointed Star are back. The standard 2017 Mercedes-Benz S550 Cabriolet is equipped with a 4.7-liter V8 biturbo engine rated at 449 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The ‘standard’ S550 Cabriolet rockets from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The high- performance 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 4Matic Cabriolet is powered by a hand-built AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo engine putting out 577 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. 

Inside, the S-Class Cabriolet boasts a luxuriously sporty design. To enable the broadest scope for individualisation, there is a choice of nappa leather or designo Exclusive nappa leather and six different interior color concepts, including a maritime-inspired combination of deep-sea blue and porcelain. 

This is firm Mercedes-Benz territory, and its sensual and pure design idiom, and one of the most beautiful and exclusive S-Class cars of all time.