The convertibles of today are generally known as little two-seat roadsters like the MX-5 and S2000. But it wasn’t long ago that a different kind of beast cruised the ocean promenades - the four door luxury convertible. Now, with barely any signs of life in this sector, Mercedes has designed a stunning concept that harks back to the good ol’ days when a four-door convertible wasn’t such a rare sight.
The big Merc is called the Concept Ocean Drive, and is one of the most stunning concepts we’ve seen to date. There are no sporty pretenses to this beauty - you know as soon as you look at it that the Concept Ocean Drive was made for wafting down ocean boulevards and appearing in rap videoclips as the "phat" car of the moment.
The all new body-work is modern with a hint of the classic lines of motorcars of old - and its two-tone paintwork only helps to further this image. The massive grille is framed by stunning LED-lights that give the car a hint of menace, but never overdo it like the 300C. Inside, no expense has been spared in carving the interior out of the finest woods and leathers, just to reaffirm that this isn’t just any convertible.
Under the bonnet sits a Mercedes V-12 lifted from an S600, and both cars share a similar platform.
I’m sure some of our Norwegian and Icelandic readers are thinking to themselves “Pah, its too cold for a convertible, what a silly idea”. But they haven’t yet heard of Mercedes’ AIRSCARF technology - a neck-level heating system to make sure that you can enjoy open-top motoring on even the dreariest of days. It's already available on the SLK and works a treat.
Sadly, it seems unlikely that the Concept Ocean Drive would ever become anything other than a concept - after all, Mercedes’ main competitors would be the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. But maybe, just maybe, this concept could mark the return of the four-door luxury convertible. In the meantime you'll have to be content with chopping the roof off your S600.
Click ahead for more images and the full press release.
Mercedes-Benz design study: Concept Ocean Drive design study – the most comfortable and elegant modern-day convertible
Detroit, Dec 20, 2006
At the North American Auto Show Detroit, Mercedes-Benz is adding to its reputation as a pioneer and design trendsetter among premium carmakers with the presentation of its Concept Ocean Drive four-door convertible. This study is a one-off creation by Mercedes-Benz which revives the tradition of large luxury convertibles. Not having to work to a design brief or production specifications left the designers free to get on with the job of developing the world's most comfortable and elegant convertible.
The Concept Ocean Drive is an aweinspiring jewel on wheels. As a four-door convertible, it belongs in a luxury genre that has almost disappeared from our roads. Like the luxury convertibles of years gone by, this showpiece from Stuttgart features the maximum in elegance, lifestyle sophistication and exclusiveness. To put it another way, it represents automobile culture at its most attractive and desirable.
The one-off special has an all-new body with an almost classic flavour and with clearly defined lines and vibrant two-tone paintwork which are exceptionally charismatic. Although on one level the Concept Ocean Drive displays the restraint of an elite and aristocratic automobile, it is also an open invitation to go on a "top-less" cruise along the world's finest ocean promenades. Luxurious, exotic materials have been crafted with consummate skill to create a showpiece of unparalleled perfection.Mercedes-Benz design studies – a stylistic journey into the future
The Concept Ocean Drive isn't just designed to inspire dreams and fantasies; it also serves a very practical purpose. Because design studies are always a good opportunity for designers to play around with less familiar themes, to see things from new angles and to explore new ideas. Not just a pure design exercise, they are also a way of stimulating a closer dialogue with customers and of trying out new ideas on the general public. This helps the designers get a feel for future styling trends and to develop and implement new design idioms.
The unique luxury convertible design study from Stuttgart turns a "dream car" vision into reality. At the same time it is also an affirmation of the design excellence and values of the Mercedes-Benz brand, including the brand's traditional basic principles like excellent build and quality, comfort, effortless superiority, value retention and safety. These values have now been joined by three further key messages: passion, fascination and innovation. The Mercedes-Benz design philosophy both perpetuate proven styling themes associated with the brand and at the same time combines them with new and surprising ideas and forms.Styling conveys effortless superiority and elegance
Apart from the four doors, the outward distinguishing marks of the concept car include a very large and upright radiator grille, LED headlamps and taillights, two-tone paintwork and a striking interplay between taut lines and large, restful surfaces. This lends the one-off special an air of effortless superiority, power, elegance and forward-flowing energy.
The long side-window opening which, typically of a convertible, is not interrupted by a B-pillar or window frames, ensures seamless continuity between the exterior and the interior, even when the top is up. Extensive use of high-value materials –such as finest-quality leather, 3D-effect materials and large bird's eye maple trim panels (in the interior and even on the soft-top compartment cover) – and many other thoughtfully designed interior details, highlight the luxurious, unique character of this design study.Top-level engineering
The design study is based on the twelve-cylinder Mercedes-Benz S 600, on ac-count of this model's long wheelbase. The technical highlights include:
* the innovative soft-top mechanism resulting in smooth operation and fast closing times;
* the innovative AIRSCARF neck-level heating system, which is featured on all four seats, allowing occupants to enjoy top-down motoring even in the colder months of the year.
Needless to say, the on-board equipment also includes top-level Mercedes-Benz innovations, some of which are unique worldwide – including Brake Assist PLUS, the innovative PRE-SAFE® brake system (in combination with radar-based DIS-TRONIC PLUS) and the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system.