PARIS--It was Fashion Week at the auto show, and coupelike shapes on sedans and wagons were the really hot outerwear.
Judging by the crush of reporters and photographers, two of the biggest stars were the Lamborghini Estoque (eh-STO'-kay) luxury sedan and the Mercedes Fascination concept, a station wagon with long, languid lines.
Coupes used to be a big deal. But they faded as SUVs, then crossovers, became the niches of choice. Now coupes are few and far between. Passe, really. Those big, unwieldy doors and all that squeezing into cramped back seats. Still, buyers seemed to miss coupe styling.
Now, the trend that began with Mercedes' CLS is coming back strong in a variety of price segments. The Estoque, a near production-ready concept car, wowed them here.
"We think there is a lack of a true Italian sedan which is at the same time very sporty and elegant," said Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann.
The Estoque would compete with two other coupelike luxury sedans in the works: Aston Martin's Rapide and Porsche's Panamera, which is due next year. Lamborghini aims to sell 3,000 Estoques a year worldwide.
Gorden Wagener, Mercedes-Benz's new design chief, said the Mercedes Fascination is "a modern shooting brake," his term for a truly sporty station wagon.
The Fascination has a long hood, small side glass, and a back end that angles down sharply. Wagener called it a "streamlined coupe shape with a functional rear." He also said the front end's crisp contours reveal the "future face of Mercedes design."
Mercedes won't say whether the Fascination will be produced, but other such vehicles are coming for sure. Volkswagen's CC, positioned above the Passat, has coupelike styling and four doors.
Next summer, Audi plans a European launch for the A7, an all-new four-door that targets CLS customers.
"It is a very important trend for the character of a brand," said Audi group design chief Wolfgang Egger. The idea is to preserve the functionality of the four-door sedan while giving the vehicle more character.
"The four-door coupe seems younger," Egger explained. "It's like the coupe of 30 years ago. But the coupe is getting older and more classical. The fresh one is a four-door or five-door coupe."
(Via: Automotive News)