It’s a sad day for some and a welcome relief for others

Future Mercedes-Benz and BMW models are about to look a lot different now that the two German automakers are beginning to soften their stance on the aggressive body lines that have permeated throughout most of their models. “Less is more” is the mantra both companies are taking to heart to address the repetitive design approach that they’ve been adopting in recent years. For those who have clamored for simpler exterior designs from Mercedes and BMW, well, Christmas has come early.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Exterior
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More than any other part of a car, aesthetic design is the most subjective one to judge

More than any other part of a car, aesthetic design is the most subjective one to judge. It’s not like an engine or a chassis where numbers and technical capabilities reign supreme. Those are given, take it or leave it. But it’s different with a car’s design because one person may like while another may hate it. That all-around subjectivity is one of the biggest challenges automakers have, and it’s one of the big reasons why aggressive styling has become the go-to direction that companies like BMW and Mercedes have adopted in recent years.

But that’s about to change for both German titans.

In Mercedes’ case, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche believes that taking a step back from designing overly expressive cars with far too many character lines will give the company a more balanced stylistic portfolio to offer to its customers. "The previous A-class design had to be edgy and loud for a reason: to attract attention, a concept that has been widely adopted by the competition, so it’s time to move on," he said. "As our head of design, Gorden Wagener, puts it: ’If you like it, take a line off. If you still like it, take another line off’."

2018 BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe Exterior
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The abuse of character lines has become an issue throughout the industry

The abuse of character lines has become an issue throughout the industry. It’s not just Mercedes or BMW that are guilty of it, but both companies are culpable in fostering it. "If you look around at what others are doing, a lot are chocking their cars full of lines, trying to achieve the sharpest edge in the world with the smallest radius. It looks very aggressive – you don’t want to touch it," said Robert Lesnik, Mercedes’ head of exterior design. "You’re afraid you could almost hurt yourself."

In some ways, the proliferation of the character or body lines achieves their desired effect. A car looks more aggressive than it probably should, and while there’s a segment of the car-buying population that appreciates that, there’s also another segment that prefers that “less is more” approach.

Zetsche admits that there needs to be a more balanced design approach is the key towards enhancing the overall design image of Mercedes. Ironically, it’s a sentiment shared by Mercedes’ biggest competitor, BMW. The automaker’s design boss, Adrian van Hooydonk, also said that evolving consumer taste is a big reason sharp and aggressively designed cars need to be scaled back. "There is more competition now. The world has changed," he said. "It’s a faster pace, so our design needs to change faster as well. We’re going to clean things up. We’re going to use fewer lines; the lines that we will have will be sharper and more precise."

References

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Source: Automotive News

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