[INTERVIEW] Mercedes explains how luxury is done
Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class is all about providing a “typical Mercedes feel” no matter who drives which version, according to Michael Kelz, chief engineer of the E-Class in a recent interview. And in order to achieve that, no new invention is necessary, but seamless integration of existing components is the key.
Despite a total of nine versions available for the latest face-lifted E-Class sedan, with variations in engine and style, the E-Class in the end “always tries to give a coming-home feeling to the car.”
"We do a lot of refinement so there is nothing that customers feel that something is standing out," he said.
The "typical Mercedes feel," according to Kelz, doesn't come from completely new technology or engines, but actually from fine-tuning of existing components to find the optimal result.
"We have more than 1,500 people at the Mercedes only in vehicle integration, not inventing parts or working together with suppliers but just integrating the car to this Mercedes feeling," Kelz said. "For E-Class we have about 250 people integrating the car into what you feel every day when you drive."
The extremely stable ride is one of the outcomes from such precision in integration.
"We have a steering system implemented which we improved for a lot of years to give you the best feeling in all situation," he said. "It should not be too sporty or lush. In the end we try to improve the system to the best point we can do to give the typical E-Class feeling."
Integration is also important for the interior as it is all about the little details that differentiate a luxury vehicle from others.
“We design everything around the driver and the passenger so you get a surrounded feeling which needs a lot of detailed investigation and craftsmanship work,” he said. “For example, the wooden part from the door goes all the way to the instrumental cluster so that you get a surrounded feeling and a welcome-home feeling.”
Mercedes also has a precision program dealing with uneveness and cracks between different material for both exterior and interior.
Ambient mood lighting requires an optimization process to find the right level of lighting that is not too obvious but relaxing.
“We’ve optimized the interior lighting and colors to new approach,” he said.
“Younger customers may like darker colors. So we offer a lot of colors so the customers can choose depending on their mood.”
In terms of driving feeling, Kelz explained that E-Class is “always on the convenient and comfortable side.”
E-Class customers can go to AMG line if they prefer the sporty style, or to the Exclusive line if they want the elegant and classic look.
“They may want to show off their sportiness, but everybody wants comfort inside the car in the end.”
The German luxury carmaker recently launched a face-lifted version of the E-Class in Korea. The brand's flagship midsize sedan first came to the world in 1947. A total of 14 million units have been sold worldwide so far.
Korea is one of the key markets for the premium sedan, as it was the most sold imported car model in Korea last year, with 39,782 units delivered. It also became the first imported model here to sell more than 100,000 units a year.
BY JIN EUN-SOO [email@example.com]