Mercedes chief engineer for large SUVs has hinted that there is an opportunity for a family of coupe-shaped SUVs, following the design blueprint laid out by the Concept Coupe SUV, set to debut in Beijing later this week. He also expressed interest in apeing the Range Rover's success with a more upmarket model to sit above the seven-seater GL-Class.
Speaking with Auto Express at the New York Motor Show, Dr Andreas Zygan said: "You saw how we developed the CLS and then the S-Class Coupe, and can apply this to smaller cars. The result has been a high percentage of new customers. This is something we can do with coupes and the SUV segment. In the end whether we build a car like the X4 depends on whether there's enough customers - you must be flexible to meet customer demands.
"People want new cars, people are obsessed with new things. Even if we don't know exactly what future holds, we have a modular platform strategy and out task is to develop new segments."
When asked about what made Mercedes' SUV strategy unique he added: "There is lots of choice, but if you want to be special it's about the design. Look at the iPhone, it's not just about functionality it's about the aesthetic and pureness of the design. The basic function of a car must be maintained, even one compromise and customer won't accept it, but the design needs to appeal emotionally."
With Land Rover pushing the Range Rover brand further upmarket, and new competitors like the Maserati Levante and Bentley's SUV on the horizon, Zygan conceeded that it was an area he is investigating. "If there are more competitors to GL, we need to react. There is definitely a market for those who want something exclusive, not just high-performance.
"There is no decision yet, we are analysing it all. It's interesting but a small segment. but our customers are expecting an answer - they want to be special."