Mercedes-Benz-Blog TRIVIA: The history of modern Mercedes-Benz Concept Vehicles

Concept vehicles have always been an essential piece in the modernization and progress of the Mercedes-Benz brand. Used to highlight the future models and technologies that are to be serially produced in a matter of years, this special type of show car is part of a very complex philosophy developed by the German constructor, which is used to strictly delimitate concept machines from research cars, technology demonstrators, experimental vehicles and design studies.

The modern era brought a wealthy array of spectacular vehicles that announced the next generation of Mercedes-Benz models. The Coupé concept of 1993 previewed the new design identity, dominated by the 4-eyed front fascia, to be then materialized in 1995 on the W 210 generation of the E-Class. Nonetheless, several other advances and features premiered on this model were to become reality on other series-produced cars, such as the fastback tail on the new C-Class sports coupé (CL 203) of 2000 and the panorama glass roof on the E-Class (W 211) of 2002.

The Vision A 93 and the Studie A prototypes that followed later in 1993 and 1994 heralded the first-generation of the A-Class compact MPV in 1998, whereas the MCC (Micro Compact Car), an early-satge project for the city car of the future, paved the way to the smart city coupé (today, the fortwo version).

The innovative SLK I and SLK II concepts that were equipped with an ingenious metal folding roof announced a new compact roadster model in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, placed just below the SL, that came in 1996: the Sport Leicht Kurz or SLK (R 170).

The versatile and activity-oriented AA Vision concept car unveiled in 1996 at the NAIAS Detroit became reality one year later, when the Sttutgart-based carmaker unleashed the M-Class sports utility vehicle, bound to be assembled at the Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama, USA.

Nearing the end of the 20th century, Mercedes-Benz revealed the Maybach ultraluxury limousine study and Vision SLR that led to the official unveiling of the Maybach 57/62 range in 2002 and the SLR McLaren supercar in 2003.

The Vision SLA of 2000 was more of a proposal for a new, possible small-sized open-top in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, placed below the SLK. It never hit streets as a series model, but lately, hints are the concept is back on the decision table. If the answer is unanimously positive, chances are the future SLA could arrive in showrooms after 2013.

At the IAA Frankfurt 2003, Mercedes-Benz shocked the audience with the unveiling of an astonishing prototype, which harmoniously blended the sexy lines of a 2-door model into a 4-door limousine: the Vision CLS. The car was very well-received and the decision to send it into the market quickly came into force. And that's how the first CLS-Class was born in 2004.

The sports tourers segment began shaping up when Mercedes-Benz released the 2002 Vision GST, 2004 Vision GST II, 2004 Vision R and 2004 Vision B (CST). This family-oriented, roomy yet dynamic and appealing set of show cars teased the new R-Class and B-Class models premiered in late 2004 and 2005.

The outrageous Maybach Exelero prototype of 2005, used for high-performance Fulda tyres, and the nonconformist 4-door luxury cabriolet Ocean Drive Concept of 2007 never reached series production, but some of the new technologies systems showcased on them found their way onto various Mercedes-Benz and Maybach versions. The Vision GLK FREESIDE and TOWNSIDE concepts that bowed in January 2008 gave important hints about the new GLK-Class compact SUV that was revealed in the spring of the same year.

The three Concept BlueZERO variants presented in 2009 at Detroit signalled the advent of the environmentally-friendly, alternative powering solutions at Mercedes-Benz. The fuel-cell and electric drive technologies were used to then develop the B-Class F-CELL, the smart fortwo ed and the A-Class E-CELL.

In 2009, Mercedes-Benz took the wraps off the Vision S 500 PLUG-IN HYBRID concept car, which used a V6 direct-injection petrol engine linked with an electric unit that, at need, can autonomously propell the vehicle for a range up to 30 km. One year after, the Concept Shooting Break served as an elegant design proposal that mixed the flowing, curvaceous lines of a 2-door model and roomy architecture of a wagon to create a new kind of coupe. The project has already been greenlighted for mass production and it will be officially revealed in 2012 in the form of the new CLS Shooting Break. Nevertheless, the second generation of the CLS-Class introduced at Paris in 2010 took its inspiration from the lines of the above-mentioned concept.

Last, but not least, the Concept A-Class premiered in April 2011 at the Shanghai Motor Show points towards a new generation of compact-sized Mercedes-Benz models. The third generation A-Class hatchback will be released during spring next year and will feature a consistent part of the technical advances previewed on the concept car.

Read more consistent details about the history of modern Mercedes-Benz concept vehicles >> HERE

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