QOTD: Which Niche Survives at Mercedes-Benz?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd which niche survives at mercedes benz

As cost-cutting born partly of stricter environmental mandates take hold across the industry, low-volume specialty cars and less-popular body styles are getting a rethink. Model lines are being consolidated or dropped, leaving the consumer with less choice than before.

At Mercedes-Benz, which currently fields a dizzying array of vehicles spanning the gamut (minus the pickup segment), the future holds less selection for the consumer who likes to go his or her own way. Bound for the chopping block are the stately S-Class coupe and convertible, and two four-doors also look to be on the way out.

We’ve arrived at a Sophie’s Choice moment.

For those of you not enamoured with such things as the new GLB-class crossover, it’s grim news. Earlier this week, a German newspaper stated that the next models to disappear from the M-B lineup are the CLS coupe (sedan) and the burly AMG GT 4-door, replaced by a single electric model. The sound you just heard was a balloon rapidly losing its air.

The CLS, as previously explained by yours truly, started out cheesy (in my opinion), took a confusing turn in its second generation, then came into its own in its current guise. It emerged into a happy middle ground between elegance and sport, with refinement to spare and a desirable inline-six engine fresh off the M-B drawing board.

The AMG GT, another four-door that carries a coupe designation, is the sibling who never leaves the gym and feasts on tuna and cottage cheese during his work break. Muscular and athletic, M-B’s in-house hot rod sedan boasts stratospheric power figures and room for a growing family.

As for the S-Class coupe, it’s an opulent pillarless hardtop. That’s all this writer needs to hear in order to get the inner fires burning. The convertible? However low its volume, the drop-top S-Class seems an excellent getaway vehicle for a weekend in Cannes. Mercedes-Benz has always been known as a manufacturer that caters to its buyers’ needs, regardless of their affluence … or infamy.

There’s four vehicles on the potential chopping block, each with a list of attributes and a niche to fill. If you called the shots in Stuttgart, which one would live on?

[Images: Daimler AG]

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  • Gasser Gasser on Feb 14, 2020

    I’m not surprised to see the volumes sold of these vehicles falling. I had a 560 SEC, 1987 and it was a fabulous car. I loved the look of it with the windows down and no B pillar. But as I reconsider the things that I loved about it, I get refocused. In 1987, most alternatives, and certainly mainstream brands were light years behind that SEC in design, luxury interior, build quality and features like ABS and air bags. Today most mainstream manufacturers have really upped their game on interior design and build quality. The race for tech and giant dashboard iPad screens is now neck in neck. Also cars are so 20th century now with SUVs. In 1980s when you arrived at a destination like a meeting or a restaurant and got out of an SEC, people took note. Now not so much. IDK if that flash is what people crave, or if those who do are on to Bentley/Maserati/etc., but I can see why this isn’t a winning formula for Mercedes, so time to cull the herd.

  • Astigmatism Astigmatism on Feb 14, 2020

    Well thank God. As long as Mercedes still sells traditional SUVs based off of the A, C, E and S Classes, and "four door coupe" SUVs wedged in between the A- and C-Classes, C- and E-Classes and E- and S-Classes, and whatever the EQC is, plus the G-Wagen and of course a Maybach SUV, we should be okay.

    • SPPPP SPPPP on Feb 14, 2020

      Well put. :) A Ford or GM product planner's dream.

  • MaintenanceCosts All I want is one more cylinder. One more cylinder and I would happily pay the diesel fraud company almost whatever they wanted for it.
  • SPPPP US like Citroen - nothing moves.
  • Jeff S Corey--Thanks again for this serious and despite the lack of comments this is an excellent series. Powell Crosley does not get enough recognition and is largely forgotten even in his hometown of Cincinnati although the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Airport has 2 Crosley cars on display. Crosley revolutionized radios by making an affordable radio that the masses could afford similar to what Henry Ford did with the Model T. Both Crosley and Ford did not invent the radio and the car but they made them widespread by making them affordable. I did not know about the Icyball but I did know about Crosley refrigerators, airplanes, cars, and radios.
  • Oberkanone C5 Aircross is the only vehicle that would have any appeal in North America. Can't see it doing well with Citroen badge, maybe a chance with Chrysler badge.
  • Oberkanone 1921 thru 1936 are the best
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