When it comes to design, Mercedes-Benz was long the conservative grande dame of luxury-car makers. Styling was understated and aimed at middle-aged buyers.
But a shift toward sportier and more youthful styling, partly driven by U.S. executives, has been paying off.
Mercedes has changed design philosophy under Gordon Wagener, who led the brand's advanced studio before being named chief designer in mid-2008.
The transformation actually started with the new-generation C class, which debuted in the United States in 2007. It continued with a new E class and E-class coupe in 2009 and the sleek, two-door SLS sports car in May.
A redesigned CLS four-door with coupe styling will go on sale next summer.
The new cars have been hits in the United States. Sales are up, and so are conquest sales and brand loyalty rates.
According to R.L. Polk, Mercedes loyalty increased from 52 percent in 2008 to 56 percent this year, while BMW loyalty fell from just over 51 percent in 2008 to a shade under 50 percent in 2010.
Mercedes also is attracting younger customers. The median age of buyers has dropped to 51, from 54 three years ago.