Like a reflection in a shimmering pool of mercury, the rising edge of the side sill on the third-generation A class mirrors the downward slopping arc of the car's greenhouse. Almost instinctively the eye joins the two to create one fluid shape traced in metal, lending it a more dynamic impression. Yet what may perhaps be the most prominent feature etched into the body of the popular hatchback has been carefully sanded away on its successor, symbolizing a new more minimalist approach at the brand.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche wants to take a step back with his luxury brand's entry hatchback. Mercedes will drastically reduce overly expressive cues -- not just in the A class but in all future models as part of an evolution of its design philosophy.
"The previous A-class design had to be edgy and loud for a reason: to attract attention, a concept that has been widely adopted by the competition, so it's time to move on," he said. "As our head of design, Gorden Wagener, puts it: 'If you like it, take a line off. If you still like it, take another line off'."
Contours help divide the car into light and dark surfaces, building tension and drawing attention to specific styling cues. Sometimes they go so far as to create the illusion the car is moving even when standing still. To emphasize their importance, many lines come with colorful names. Mercedes, for example, has ones dubbed Catwalk Lines or Balancing Lines. Audi designers call the shoulder crease in the side of its cars the Tornado Line.