New Benz models top secret
STANDING outside in the snow on a bitter Wednesday afternoon in downtown Stuttgart can have its benefits.
The passive smoking outside the hotel is not fun, but it’s impossible to avoid a smile when a pair of topsecret Daimler prototypes idle past.
The first is disguised, but barely. It’s a Benz prime mover with graffiti camouflage splashed over the cabin and it sticks out in traffic because of the crazy bodywork and there is nothing hitched to the tail.
As it glides past, the reason is clear.
Right behind the cabin is an experimental fuel cell stack, indicating this heavy hauler is being used to assess the future of hydrogen power in electric trucks for the not-too-distant future.
Not five minutes later a flat-back compact comes into view. This, too, is some- thing special from the Mercedes-Benz experimental department. It’s one of Benz’s new B-Class compacts and it is wrapped in fake bodywork, oddball wheels and finished with cheap tail-lights.
The new B — promised to bring far more sophistication to the bottom end of the Mercedes range later this year — is hard to pick in pictures, but up close it’s easy to see the longer and lower bodywork, glass that cuts down deeper into the doors, a smoother new dash outline and the work that’s gone into making it more than just an affordable city box with a three-point star.
What a pity the camera was upstairs in my room during the excitement.
Benz has eight new-model introductions planned this year and there is a real insight — official and unofficial — during the company’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
The official stuff starts with the unveiling of the latest SLK roadster by F1 heroes Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and David Coulthard and continues with a design presentation on the car plus sketches of the upcoming cabins of the B-Class and baby A-Class.
The unofficial stuff happens when we get lost inside Benz’s experimental headquarters and do a lap of the carpark. There are nearly a dozen B-Class prototypes, but we also get a quick peek at the lightly disguised C-Class coupe, the thumping C63 AMG Coupe, the next ML SUV and even an updated SL roadster and a giant GL, partly hidden.
What a pity the camera was, this time, locked away with the ruthlessly efficient guards at Gate 14.
Benz’s new B-Class is more than just an affordable city box with a three-point star