Robert Les­nik In­ter­view 4

Automobile - - Design -

WE SAT down with Robert Les­nik, head of ex­te­rior de­sign for Mercedes-Benz. His team is re­spon­si­ble for the shape of the main pro­duc­tion car lines as well as the mul­ti­ple AMG mod­els de­rived from them. Les­nik quickly as­sured us that the new third­gen­er­a­tion CLS and AMG GT 4-Door are “com­pletely dif­fer­ent cars” de­spite both be­ing based on the same MRA plat­form com­po­nent set. AM: How does the CLS com­pare to the AMG GT 4-Door? RL: The CLS is more about style, a more el­e­gant car be­cause the GT is def­i­nitely typ­i­cal AMG.

The wheel­base is dif­fer­ent, the axles are dif­fer­ent, the widths, the lengths, be­cause on the GT you will be able to get the V-8. It’s a very per­for­mance­ori­ented car in its de­sign as well. It is louder in terms of styling. Also it’s much more ag­gres­sive, with the 300 SL Panamer­i­cana grille from 1952. It’s much big­ger and wider and with up­right bars; this is our AMG grille. We in­tro­duced it on the GT in 2014, and we will have it on even more cars in the fu­ture. And the CLS roofline is for a two side-win­dow [day­light open­ing], and the GT is a three-win­dow DLO for a longer fast­back. AM: The hood domes of the 4-Door are kind of soft ... RL: Yeah. Some have a crease like on the GT, and some are just round, like on the Gull­wing from the ’50s. There is no rea­son now, but … that de­sign el­e­ment is just so cool. If you take it out, then you are like ev­ery­body else. So there are things that are not for tech­ni­cal rea­sons any­more but for de­sign, for op­tics. AM: What are the creases on the back of the 4-Door for? RL: They’re an AMG iden­tity mark. Ev­ery car, we have an AMG ver­sion of it. They all have th­ese el­e­ments. Some are fakes; some have air­flow go­ing through them. AM: The 4-Door is a hatch­back, cor­rect? RL: For lack of a bet­ter term we call it a lift­back or hatch­back, yeah. Whereas the CLS has a trun­k­lid.

AM: Are there any car­ry­over ex­te­rior parts from the GT coupe?

RL: No.

AM: You didn’t even get to keep the grille? RL: Yes, it looks the same, but in fact it’s not the same piece. … But ob­vi­ously the look be­longs to the en­tire AMG fam­ily.

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