Unless you live under a rock, you’ll be familiar with the plight and decline of the traditional ‘three box’ sedan. Once a sales staple and around the world, the humble sedan has been overtaken by the SUV and the ute, with some brands culling them from their line-ups entirely.
And, according to Daimler design boss Gorden Wagener, things are about to get worse. Speaking to Top Gear, the guy that penned the W221-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class said that traditional sedans are running on borrowed time.
“Electrification will kill the three-box sedan for several reasons,” Wagenar said. “Aero is one. Secondly, with a six-inch battery pack a three-box sedan simply doesn’t look good, it looks shit. You have to do something that visually digests the height.”
Wagenar’s latter point is a reference to how the added battery pack tech makes it hard to design sedans that are low and sleek (SUVs by contrast are more or less unaffected in a design sense).
Whether the sedan is truly dead is perhaps less black and white than Wagenar would make it seem. The sedan genre has been given a bit of a reprieve of late, ironically thanks specifically to electrification.
The Tesla Model S and Model 3 in particular have showed that sedans can still capture the minds of car buyers, with the latter currently the most popular sedan in New Zealand by quite the margin.
The difference here is that neither model is really a true three-box sedan. Both have an attractive, sleek sloping roofline (the Model S could be argued to be more hatchback than sedan I suppose, but that’s another topic for another day).
It’s clear that Wagenar sees these more sloped-off silhouettes as being something different to a three-box. This is most evident in his references to Mercedes’ latest sedans, the EQE and AMG EQS 53 showed off this week at the Munich Motor Show.
“That’s why we came up with that bold design with the EQ models, because it looks stretched, it looks stylish,” Wagenar explained.
“So that [electrification] will change the proportions of cars. We have to make sure they don’t all look alike, but that fear has existed for 30 years or so. We managed to make them look different, and I’m confident we can do that in the future.”