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“I believe the British do a fairly good job — they appear to supply vehicles that look British,” Ford Motor Firm’s retired design chief J Mays says.

On condition that Minis basically look the identical as they’ve at all times regarded, Mays makes a great case.

However Mays tells Automotive Information he’s “a giant stickler for cultural relevance.” And whereas the person whose affect can nonetheless be seen throughout a lot of the Ford lineup — he retired three years in the past — credit the Brits for bringing tradition to automobile design, he offers no such credit score to the Germans.

“When you’re going to go to work in Italy, France, or Germany, you actually wish to be certain that the model represents the mindset of the tradition it comes from,” Mays says. In Germany, Mays makes clear, Porsche is the lone exception, the one German automaker that builds German vehicles that look German.

Audi and BMW? Wants enchancment.

Mercedes-Benz?

“I couldn’t inform you what Mercedes is doing,” Mays says, “however it’s not German.”

It’s not a praise. J Mays, who says he left Audi in 1994 as a result of he felt as if the following few generations of Audi merchandise already had their design largely cemented, now says Mercedes-Benz wants “a quieter design language” and extra continuity between generations and all through its lineup.Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 - Image: Mercedes-BenzLegitimate or not, Mays’ criticism of Mercedes-Benz design just isn’t matched by degradation in Mercedes-Benz’s world attraction. Mercedes-Benz reported report gross sales of practically 2.1 million items in 2016, besting BMW by some 81,000 items over the course of the calendar yr. Mercedes-Benz outsold BMW final yr for the primary time since 2005 and topped premium model leaderboards in key markets corresponding to Germany and america.

Customers and designers, after all, are sometimes at odds. What Mays sees as distinctly un-German might, within the eyes of American luxurious automobile consumers, be perceived as very a lot in step with their expectations for a Mercedes-Benz. The staid conservatism is lengthy gone, naturally, and even the hood-topping decoration is quick dropping its affect. However it’s tough to see any lack of cohesion between the C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class, Mercedes-Benz’s three core sedans that basically seem like Benz sedan design copies in S, M, and L. (And XL.)

Mays isn’t completely important. As a result of Peter Schreyer’s affect, Mays says Hyundai and Kia are “designing among the finest vehicles on the earth.” Neither is Mays the one outdoors critic of Mercedes-Benz. Final month, BMW govt Henrik von Kuenheim ripped the Mercedes-Benz X-Class to shreds.

[Images: BMW, Audi, Daimler AG, Porsche]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Reality About Automobiles and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.internet. Comply with on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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